Despite funding fears school moves forward with roof repair

Manistee Area Public Schools is moving forward with critical school repairs even though it could mean making budget cuts down the road.

The roof at Kennedy Elementary School is almost a half a century old and water could leak into classrooms.

Last May a levy to raise $1.5 million to fix the problem failed. The district has decided to go ahead and pay for the project using money from the general fund, but they have a plan to put the money back.

Manistee Area Public Schools Superintendent John Chandler says, "The way that it works is Honeywell comes in and does energy efficient upgrades to buildings. That will generate savings, and those savings are used to pay for the improvements themselves."

It will be 15 years before the district sees enough savings in energy bills to pay for the estimated $500,000 repair project.

Chandler says, "When you have to take money out of the general fund to make improvements it is very difficult to maintain programs and class sizes, things we're proud of here in Manistee."

Chandler admits it's a risky move. Last year the district made a $1.9 in cuts that forced them to close down one of its elementary schools. This year enrollment is down and the district just found out it wil pay an additional $100,000 to the state for teacher retirement.

The district says the repair project will be done over the summer.