2017-08-10 / Front Page

Ubly bond proposals shot down by narrow margin

BY CINDY CENTOFANTI
Staff Writer

UBLY - The results are in and the fate of the future Ubly Community Schools and district has been determined by the voters

On Tuesday, Aug. 8, voters were asked to deliberate whether or not to approve two ballot proposals for Ubly Community Schools. The bonding proposal was sought after by the district for an accumulated $8.4 million bond including a millage of 1.7 mills to be paid over a 20-year period. The second proposal asked voters to approve a sinking fund of $490,000 for 10 years at two mills.

The voters denied the Ubly Community Schools Bonding Proposal by 139 votes – 347 voters said yes to the proposal (41.66 percent), while the opposed reigned supreme with 486 voters who said no (58.34 percent). There was an accumulated amount of 833 votes that were cast on the bond project.

As for the Ubly Community Schools Sinking Fund Millage Proposal, it was a closer call with 72 votes casting the dissenting vote – 379 voters said yes to the proposed sinking fund millage (45.66 percent), while the 451 voters cast the majority no vote (54.34 percent). 830 total votes were accounted for on the sinking fund ballot.

Originally, the bond was planned to be utilized, if approved, to enhance the learning environment for the students at Ubly. However, Superintendent Joseph Candela said he will have to take a look at the numbers and regroup with the community, board and community committee – a board composed of selected Ubly residents in the district who helped weigh in on the proposed renovations.

He said he will have to analyze what renovations the community would be willing to accept and support.

“We definitely have to take a look at the numbers. We don’t know if building is where the community is at right now,” Candela said. “The sinking fund was a little better, we would have to see if the community would help and be open to doing a little work on the upstairs rooms and the elementary.”

The $8.4 million-dollar bonding proposal was set aside for plans of constructing a brand-new wing for preschool through third grade. The plans were to move grades fourth through sixth to the already-existing elementary school allowing them more space for learning and development and offer help for students to work with a para-professional.

Candela also said his biggest area of concern is the 1936-era classrooms located on the upstairs section of the school. The original plans detailed removing the upstairs section completely and revamping the size of the small gymnasium, which would be increased with some features which will bring the gym into the twenty-first century.

“I think the upstairs is the biggest area that is going to need some work, that’s my biggest area of concern,” Candela said prioritizing the repairs going forward. “Then, it would be the elementary rooms and the classrooms themselves that need to be updated. The elementary gym can still continue. That issue was looked at in the bond issue to expand it to make it a full gym. That gym has been there since 1936”

Candela said the last time the district updated school facilities was in 2008, when a bond issue allowed updates, but did not construct anything new. He said the last time any new structures were added was from the 1992-93 bond issue which updated plumbing and electrical work in the elementary school.

He also said something will have to be done with main high school gymnasium additionally adding the wood floors and the old bleachers will have to be replaced.

“We have set some money aside for the high school gym, about $120,000 in our reserve fund to take a look at how we can fix that floor,” Candela said. “Obviously that’s not something we can start with school starting in less than three weeks but we will look at doing those repairs for next school year, possibly next summer.”

The second proposal voters also said no to was for approval of a sinking fund to be paid at a fixed cost for 10 years at two mills.

The $490,000 sinking fund was planned to be collected with annual taxes and would have allowed the opportunity to continue to maintain the district’s facilities without using money from the general fund.

“We won’t be able to fix everything in the school that needs to be repaired out of our general fund, we will need some help from the community to get all of the fixes that we have,” Candela said.

Candela did mention the defeat was much more apparent in the $8.4 million bonding proposal than in the lesser $490,000 sinking fund.

“At least we started a conversation about the conditions of the school,” Candela said optimistically. “Now we are going to be looking to the community to see what we can do to improve our school’s conditions together.”

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