East Lansing Schools Bond Proposal Moves Forward with 6-1 Vote

Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 7:21 am
Karessa Wheeler

Above: Newly elected Trustee Nichole Martin (center) explains her "no" vote on the school bond proposal motion.

The East Lansing Board of Education will ask the State to approve its request to borrow no more than $93,770,000 in bonds to finance the rebuilding of the District’s elementary schools.

The Board’s preliminary qualification of bonds application to the Michigan Department of Treasury was approved Monday night with a vote of 6 to 1, with the sole “no” coming from newly sworn in Board Trustee Nichole Martin.

Martin, who was elected to the Board in November, commented after the vote that she is fully supportive of the bond but needs to have more information before voting “yes” on the proposal.

“I recognize that it is important that we all work together to make this happen. Our facilities are horrible,” Martin said. “Right now I don’t feel I can vote ‘yes.’… I want to see it passed but I don’t feel comfortable voting for something that I don’t know enough about.”

The 64-page application specified that the money would be spent “erecting, furnishing and equipping five new elementary school buildings; remodeling, furnishing and refurnishing and equipping and re-equipping a school building; acquiring and installing instructional technology and instructional technology equipment for school buildings; equipping, preparing, developing and improving playgrounds, play fields, parking areas, drives and sites.”

Red Cedar Elementary, currently closed, is the single school scheduled for only remodeling, not rebuilding.

The amount that will be requested from the State is slightly less than the $98 million approved by the Board during its final 2016 meeting.

Trustee Kate Powers moved the approval of the application, stating that she is aware that it is not as detailed as many people would like but that the details will be coming as the process continues.

“This is the opportunity for us to start this process, instead of a comprehensive look at what the bond proposal will be,” Powers said. “There is still a lot of work to be done on what this actually looks like moving forward. There have to be more details put forward to the Board and by the Board to the community. I am requesting that we put together some good information about what this bond proposal will actually do in the long run.”

Board President Nell Kuhnmuench assured Powers that more details will be available before the bond goes to the public this spring.

“The intent all along has been to get as much detail to the public before the bond election. The public will have the opportunity to have a lot of input in the implementation as we move forward,” Kuhnmuench said.

According to the Department of Treasury website, once the State gives the preliminary approval for the bonds, the next step is putting the issue before the voters. To do this, the Board will have to agree on the exact wording on the ballot proposal.

The East Lansing School administration is hoping to put the bond on the May 2, 2017 regular election.