Chelsea School District exploring a bond proposal





By Lonnie Huhman,

lhuhman@thesuntimesnews.com

A recommendation for an $81 million bond proposal is now in the hands of the Chelsea Board of Education.

At the May 20 meeting, the Bond Study Committee gave its recommendation to the school board after working over the past few months, digging deeper into the needs of the school district.



The recommendation stated, “Based on the assessment information, the careful study of the program, and the professional survey results, the committee recommends for the District to move forward with an $81 million bond proposal in November 2019 that results in no tax increase for community members.”

No decision was made on the recommendation and now the school board will review this recommendation to determine whether or not seeking a bond is wise for the district. The exact number of years for the bond, whether it is for 20 or 25 years, has not yet been given.

The May 20 presentation was given by Bond Study Committee members Gary Munce, Matt Ceo and Heather Conklin.

The larger Bond Study Committee is made up of parents, students, community members, seniors, administrators, board members, and outside experts, who have been studying the possibility of a bond election in November.

The group worked to review facility and program needs in order to determine the support needed from a bond program. Survey work was also done in the district through Epic MRA.

The charge of the bond committee was, acting as good stewards of the community’s resources, to review, analyze and provide input into a plan for upgrading the district’s educational facilities to support learner-centered school communities and meet safety priorities aligned to the district’s vision, mission and strategic goals.

Munce, a district resident and active community member, said their purpose was to offer input to the school board with the ultimate mission and hope of helping Chelsea continue to be a leader in educational delivery and student learning.

He said one important goal of the committee was to come up with a plan that fits with the district’s mission while not having district taxpayers see a tax increase.

Ceo, Assistant Principal at Beach Middle School, said during the committee’s work it always kept in mind the district’s goals, mission and strategic vision.

These include: incorporating the graduate learner profile across all learning environments to develop globally competitive graduates, including the areas of academic, social and emotional; fostering students to be confident, reflective and empathetic by supporting their overall emotional health; providing and supporting a positive, safe, and healthy school environment; strengthening organizational effectiveness and maximizing community and district resources to support continuous improvement, and nurturing open communication and constructive partnerships within the school district and with surrounding communities.

“You’ll notice that where this bond study committee has gone actually touches on all of these strategic framework goals,” Ceo said.

During its work, Ceo said the committee formed a list of what it would like to see improved in the district and it includes the modernization of classrooms, providing more project-based learning opportunities, updating security in all district buildings, improving food services, transportation and technology, enhancing the performing arts by updating its spaces as well improvements into the areas for physical education, athletics, media centers, daycare/childcare and professional development.

Ceo said in considering their guiding principles and based on everything they all say they really wanted to see come about, they formed some core values.

“We said ‘OK, what are our core values, what are we saying about ourselves, based on what we decided,’” he said. “And we said we need to transform our existing classrooms. That’s a must. We need to create spaces for STEAM, STEM and PBL or project-based learning. We need to develop professional space for our teachers, so they can continue professional development in an environment that’s appropriate. We need to reinforce a sense of a community for the students and staff by creating places in the building where kids and teachers can meet and confer, and we need to create secure entries for all of our buildings in the district.”

Conklin, a CSD Instructional Support Specialist, said they took all of these needs/wants and looked at each building and what their specific needs are in an effort to narrow down the recommendation plan. She said one priority arrived at in the narrowing down remained the work in the classroom. She said community input has been and will continue to be important.   

The results of the community survey, which had 300 qualified respondents involved, gave a view that the more information district voters have and the better understanding that they have of the needs in the district than the more willing they may be in supporting a bond proposal. The results said some in the community believe the district is in great shape and there are few, if any, needs, which isn’t the case according to the bond committee’s work. 

If the bond process goes forward, the survey made it clear the district will have to properly communicate to the community what its needs are, how much those might cost and how the bond would work. 

One detail that received a lot of support in the survey was improvement of security.

The next step will have the school board reviewing the committee’s recommendation at its June 10 meeting.





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