Coloma School Board to host Community Forums on millage vote
By Annette Christie The Coloma School Board is hosting two upcoming Community Forums on the sinking fund millage request that will go before voters in the May 8, 2018 election. The two events will be held in the Coloma High School auditorium at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, March 26 and Wednesday, April 18. The voters will be asked to approve a 1.25 mill sinking fund request for the renovation and repair of district facilities, along with site and safety/security improvements. The Building & Site Sinking Fund would be used for specific repairs and improvements in the district. In the first five years of the sinking fund the district would plan to complete the following: A new roof on the high school and the main gymnasium; improved school security/safety in all buildings with the additions of cameras, improved doors/locks and site lighting, where needed; resurface parking lots at the junior high, high school and intermediate buildings; improve the playground at Coloma Intermediate for the 4th and 5th grade students, while also being available for the community to use after school hours; and improvements at Alwood Gym, including a new roof, bleachers, remodeled entry way and renovating the bathrooms. In addition, district officials would hope to address any needs with the aging boiler systems in the schools, renovate some of the older classrooms and hallways in the elementary and high schools, and any other issues that might arise over the next 10 years. In January of this year, the school board approved asking the voters for the sinking fund following several months filled with information and consideration. The district is facing some aged roofs which are causing problems. When the district looked at replacing the roof on the high school a few years back, the estimate was $1.2 million but this is just a fraction of what is needed. “There is at least $5 million in repairs needed in the district today,” Superintendent Pete Bush said. The district currently has a bond issue that voters put in place in 2012, to run through 2031. This funded several improvements district wide. They also have two separate Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) that are 0% interest funds for various improvements and updates. While the lack of interest payments is attractive, the funds still have to be paid back out of the general fund and the district pays back over $400,000 a year. Despite all of these things that have been done to improve the facilities, their financial needs continue. In approving the millage proposal, the district could generate approximately $482,000 annually through 2027. This would cost the taxpayer of a home valued at $100,000, about $62 a year or $5 a month. In other business at the School Board meeting on Monday, March 19, the board approved two overnight trips for students. The eighth graders will have an opportunity to go to Mackinac Island in June. About 40 students will be going on the trip which rewards students for good citizenship and grades. The high school choir students will have an opportunity to sing at a Disney property after Thanksgiving this year. The plan is to be a part of the candlelight processional held at Epcot, however if the choir does not get selected for that premier performance, they will perform at a different park. Choir Director Rebecca Selvidge told the board that this has been in the works for four or five years. If selected, the Coloma High School Choir will perform collegiate level songs along with the Disney Symphony and Disney Choir. Selvidge said the choirs are up to the challenge of preparing “up to Disney standards.” The Board also approved applying for a grant from the Berrien Community Foundation for the Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention Curriculum. The curriculum will be presented to seventh graders and involves educating students and teachers on how to recognize the warning signs and how to respond appropriately. The program is designed for students at that grade level. The district has already obtained some grants for the program but not for the full amount. They are hoping this grant will provide that.
BEST BUDDIES… Coloma Middle Schoolers Caleb Ishmael (left) and Brodie McQuillan dressed up as leprechauns and hit the pavement coming in 4th and 5th in their age category of 14 and under at Saturday’s 5K race. (TCR photo by Lynn Attila)