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A closer look at Alpena Public Schools ahead of Tuesday’s bond proposal

ALPENA, Mich. — Michigan primary elections are now less than one week away. That means it’s time to start making some critical decisions before heading out to vote.

One of those is the Alpena Public Schools bond proposal. Many of the buildings are old. rundown and are costing the district lots of money to fix. Whether those conditions will soon be improved is in the voters hands. Superintendent of Alpena Public Schools, Dr. John VanWagoner says, tax payers won’t have to worry about another increase on their tax bills.

“That 1.8 mils will not raise with this election. If it passes, it will just continue on and you’ll see that same tax bill, it won’t increase. In fact, over time, as we go, it’ll actually decrease.”

VanWagoner says the district can’t afford to keep just patching over conditions without fixing them at the root. He says it’s getting expensive, and issues of comfort and security are starting to affect the students.

“We’ll actually make sure that we have good solid roofs, boilers, and we’ll also add some very basic security things to ensure somebody can’t just walk through the front door and walk down to a classroom. Really, that theme is keeping our kids safe, keeping our kids warm, and keeping our kids dry,” says VanWagoner.

He also walked WBKB personnel through four of nine schools in the district to see first-hand what the students are dealing with. The first two included Ella White Elementary, which was built in 1950, and Alpena High School, which went up in 1967.

VanWagoner says, “The boiler at Ella White is in very bad shape. We’re having to flush it out. It’s actually flooding. One of the boilers is out just about every other day.”

That’s not to mention asbestos in the ceiling titles and flooring, and leaky roofs that are causing water to drip into student lockers, ruing their belongings. The situation isn’t too much different at the high school, where faulty plumbing, asbestos, and inefficient boiler systems are disrupting the learning process.

“We want to make sure that those things that are deteriorating the fastest are the things that are going to get priority to get done first,” VanWagoner explains.

These aren’t all of the problems the district is facing, but if you would like more information about what exactly will be fixed if the bond is approved, visit, or reach out to the superintendent. He says he’s happy to speak with parents and tax payers about updating the buildings.