School Board Officially Begins Rebuilding Process, Promises to Seek Public Input

Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 8:00 am
Karessa Wheeler

The East Lansing Board of Education officially began the process of rebuilding five new elementary buildings with the approval of a resolution to issue the first round of construction bonds Monday.

Last week, by a margin of 145 votes, residents approved a bond millage to allow the school administration to borrow up to $93.77 million to reconstruct Donley, Marble, Pinecrest, Glencairn and Whitehills elementary schools and update Red Cedar Elementary.

Board President Nell Kuhnmuench thanked the voters for their confidence while acknowledging that many remain unconvinced that the plans are best for the region.

“While we have different opinions that we share freely in our discourse, our community is committed as a whole to excellence in education,” she said. “The vote last week gives our community the ability to move forward together to upgrade our elementary facilities in our District.”

The first series of bonds would be $67,200,000. This is the amount of money the District, under guidance of the construction firm and architect, would spend in the first three years of the project, explained attorney Christopher Iamarino of Thurn Law Firm which prepared the bond documents for the District.

The entire project is expected to be completed in 2021.

Acting Superintendent Dori Leyko told the Board that she recognizes that a large number of people have concerns and additional questions about the construction plans, and said that the District will offer opportunities for feedback and input by the community.

“We are extremely excited for the possibilities and opportunities this approved proposal will bring to our students and families,” Leyko said.

In other action, the Board:

  • Heard an overview of the improvement plan for Donley Elementary by Principal Tracey Barton.
  • Listened to a presentation on the high school AVID program for college preparedness.
  • Approved the proposed 2017-18 Ingham Intermediate School District General Fund budget.

The Board also heard comments from parent Andy Draheim urging them to ensure that all buildings in the upcoming construction be as energy efficient and “green” as possible.

Parent Stacy Dickert-Colin urged the Board to continue to explore ways to enhance the opportunity for students to be challenged in subjects such as math. She said her family has had to rely on outside programs to meet their children’s needs for advanced studies and is afraid not all families have the same resources.