District approves plan, wonâ??t close school

Community members came out to the Traverse City Area Public School board meeting to voice concerns over talks of closing a local elementary school.

After two bond proposals failed in the November 2013 election, Traverse City Area Public Schools went back to the drawing board to find a new solution to budget concerns.

One option board members were given was the possibility of closing Interlochen Elementary School.

At Monday nightâ??s school board meeting, board members approved an alternate plan that does not involve closing any schools.

â??This recommendation does not have anything within it that suggests we're going to close a building in the near term,â?? said Paul Soma, Associate Superintendent for Finance and Operations. â??It suggests we're going to do the opposite.â??

The plan evaluates all of the critical capital needs facing the district, including roof replacements, public announcement system overhauls, and replacing flooring.

â??We operate over $350m worth of capital infrastructure. That infrastructure depreciates on a yearly basis. If that depreciation exceeds the dollar amount you have to put into those facilities, eventually those facilities are going to wear out. That's where we are with three elementary schools,â?? said Soma.

The long-term plan for those schools, Interlochen, Eastern Elementary, and TCAPS Montesorri at Glenn Loomis, is rebuilding. Since the bond issue failed, the district is scaling back and making short term changes.

â??Those critical capital needs include work that will be done on buildings we intended to reconstruct. We're going to put about $700,000 into Interlochen Elementary, about $500,000 into Eastern, just to buy time. We have the base knowledge of what our needs are. We know what infrastructure we need to fix. We also know the programming needs for our system.â??

The district plans to bring another bond issue before voters November of 2015. Soma said the board now has 14 months to figure out the best approach for the 2015 ballot proposal.

â??We want equity for the students across our school system relative to the facilities they go into to learn. The facilities they have right now at Interlochen, Central, and Glenn Loomis, are simply not equitable across this area.â??

They also need to renew 18-mils on a non-homestead bond in 2014.

By accepting the recommendations Monday night, the board will now seek bids for all the projects on the critical capital needs list.

The major fixes will be completed this summer; the entire list will be addressed within the next 18 months.