Wayland schools to get busy after bond issue approval

Five members of the Dorr Elementary and their comrades led the school board meeting in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Buoyed by last week’s news of voters’ approval of a $19.25 million bond project, the Wayland Board of Education Monday evening dealt with setting things in motion for next year.

Superintendent Norm Taylor told the board the target date for completing a sixth grade addition at the middle school, repairs and renovations at Pine Street Elementary and a new tennis court will be the fall of 2019.

Finance Director Patricia Velie, noting the school district’s double A-minus bond rating, said optimistically, “We could be looking at being in good shape for selling our bonds (next year) at a good price.”

Taylor added, “I thank the board for the courage to move forward (on the bond). They could have said no after voters spoke up against it last May.”

The board first proposed two proposals for a total of $55 million and voters rejected both of them by hefty two-to-one ratios. The school board decided not long afterward to pare down the request to one proposal and about a third of the cost and won at the ballot box Nov. 7 with 51.6% approval.

Velie told the board the district now has a fund balance, or savings account, of 11.56% of the general fund budget, up from the audited total of 9.76% the year before. Taylor said that figure is above the state average (excluding Detroit) of 11.37%.

Taylor and board members Cinnamon Mellema, Pete Zondervan, Toni Ordway and Janel Hott returned recently from the Michigan Association of School Boards Conference.

Zondervan talked about better marketing and branding for the district, saying, “We’re a growing district and we need to take advantage of that to keep bringing people in.”

“We’re really good, Wayland is really solid, but there are things we can do better,” Mellema commented.

In other business at Monday night’s meeting, the board:

• Approved the lowest bid from Republic for trash removal, with a savings of 4.8%, Velie reported. The trash hauling fee will increase by 1.6% in each of the following three years.

• Was told that the recycling program through Republic will return and take in recycling plastic, paper and cardboard at the transportation building at a cost of $355 per month.

• Fielded a request from Taylor, on behalf of high school counseling staff, to reconsider Wayland’s non-participation in the early college program. If Wayland gets on board, it will be awarded 10 slots.

There are 50 slots in Allegan County and Taylor said 41 students enrolled in the program and 35 are set to graduate next year. The program, aimed at helping high school students with grade point averages of between 2.5 and 3.0 enables them to get an associate’s degree in business, an associate of arts or an associate’s in machine tool technology in one rather than two years. Students attend classes through Lake Michigan College offered at the Career Technical Center in Allegan.

The board is expected to take up the issue early next year.

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