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Proposal for new pool likely to face voters in August

Late last year, it appeared that members of the Board of Education and Wayland Union Schools officials were preparing a campaign for a bond issue for a new pool.

But now, it’s not just appearances — such a campaign will begin with a public input session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18, at the Wayland Schools’ Administrative Building on East Superior Street. The hope is to place the issue on the August primary election ballot.

Supt. Dr. Christina Hinds said school officials will be seeking public opinion about a bond issue, soliciting citizens’ ideas about what they’d like to see, besides just a new swim pool.

The old pool was built along with the high school back in 1974, and over the past 47-plus years, it has worn out and broken down to the point the swim teams cannot legally hold dual meets at the site. Further, the pool has broken down and has been unavailable for public use often because of maintenance and repair issues.

A new pool was part of an ambitious $55 million bond issue that was soundly defeated on May 2, 2017. Also included in the proposal was the idea of razing Pine Street Elementary and building a new elementary school. The school board came back with a pared-down bond proposal in November of that year, building an addition to the middle school and installing new tennis courts, and it was passed.

So now the idea is finally to have a functioning and interscholastically appropriate pool for the community and athletic teams. Yet Hinds insists it’s important to determine if there is support for other projects as well. She stressed gathering public input and noted her “Soup with the Sup” sessions at McDuff’s in Wayland and Bell’s Colonial Kitchen in Dorr also are good chances for residents to say what’s on their minds.

School officials are putting together a phone survey that includes 28 questions over 10 minutes.

Assistant Supt. for Finances and Operations Pat Velie said, “It’s a set group of questions, so it (the survey) should go quickly.”

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

• Learned from Velie that the Gun Lake Casino revenue sharing payment in December was a better than expected $998,752, bringing the final 2021 total to $1,537,595.

• Was told by Hinds that a combined total of 23 students and staff was reported as Covid cases on Monday, Jan. 10, one of the highest daily figures since the pandemic began.

• Was presented with figures from Velie that estimate a “zero growth” balanced budget of $37 million is expected for fiscal year 2022-23, but final adjustments won’t be made until June.

“It’s a budget that doesn’t have a lot of room in it,” Velie said.

• Agreed to purchase two buses early to avoid an anticipated price increase by paying $201,648 to International. Velie said buying now will save the district between $5,000 and $10,000.

• Changed the meeting location of its Monday, Jan. 24, work session to the high school media center instead of the customary administrative building.

COVER PHOTO: Steeby Elementary second-graders sing a “Thank You” song to board members in honor of School Board Recognition Month.

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