ALPENA, Mich. — Last year, the Alpena Public School System proposed a bond to renovate old and deteriorating buildings in the district. Voters denied that bond last May, but now there’s a revised plan to fix the schools without increasing taxes.
Superintendent of Alpena Public Schools, Dr. John VanWagoner, says this time around, conditions of the proposal will be more suitable for taxpayers.
“The bond that we had last time was taking the 1.8 and adding an additional mil. It would’ve been an additional mil increase. This one does not do that. This one maintains that 1.8 mils. It’s currently being taxed now. You will not see your tax rate from Alpena Public Schools go up if this bond passes.”
If you remember last year’s proposal, you’re acquainted with the rundown buildings and safety hazards the district is facing. Dr. VanWagoner said in 2019,
“Boilers, some repairs that are needed of floors of some sinking settlement concrete, parking lots those kinds of things that are just in major disrepair that we don’t money from the state extra at all for.”
This year’s bond addresses many of the same problems outlined in last year’s proposal, just on a smaller scale. VanWagoner says,
“It’ll actually make sure that we have good, solid roofs, boilers and add some very basic security things to ensure somebody can’t just walk through the front door and walk down to a classroom.”
And this time around updates are expected to be completed on a much tighter budget.
“It’s half of what it was before. We’re talking going from $66 million to $33.9 million.
Among the biggest issues to be addressed if the proposal is approved is security. The current setup of many school buildings has created scares in the past the superintendent doesn’t want to see repeated.
“We’ve had instances of registered sex offenders, we’ve had people that are not supposed to be in our buildings that don’t have parent custody just walk in. They’re buzzed in or they grab the door when somebody else is walking out and they go right down to a classroom trying to grab a kid.”
The district is now pleading for taxpayers to step in and help serve area students with basic needs so they can focus on what should matter most during school hours: getting a good education.
“Really, that theme is keeping our kids safe, keeping our kids warm, and keeping our kids dry.”
If you want to see all of the work that needs to be done across district, Dr. VanWagoner says he’s more than happy to set up tours with taxpayers.
You can already apply for an absentee ballot if you chose to vote that way. The election is Tuesday, March 10.