MAPS Bond Issue, Part 2

Election day is next Tuesday, and Marquette-area voters have to decide whether or not the school district should be allowed to borrow $29 million.

We have a 3–part series examining the bond issue.

Tonight, in Part 2, ABC 10 News Now senior reporter Mike Hoey examines how we got here.

The Marquette Area Public Schools last issued a bond in 1991.

Since then, declines in state funding and increasing operating costs have hampered MAPS’s ability to meet many of the district’s needs.

Bond supporter Lisa Coombs-Gerou says that’s 20 years of operation at the same financial level, one which doesn’t allow for technology and energy-efficieny upgrades.

The 1991 bond issue was for $11.95 million, and with the value of a mill in 1991, that came out to 2.98 mills.

But the millage amount levied to pay off that bond has shrunk over the years — it’s lower than 1 mill today.

If the new bond proposal passes, the added 1.5 mills would still place the district below the total number of mills from 20 years ago.

At that time, it had about 5,000 students spread across 8 school buildings.

MAPS now has fewer than 3,000 students in 7 buildings, including Graveraet and Vandenboom, which now have different uses.

About 10 years ago, MAPS closed three of its elementary schools — Parkview, Whitman and Silver Creek — and sold them to other entities.

MARESA bought Parkview School to use as its headquarters.

Northern Michigan University bought Whitman, and Silver Creek School is now a church.

Instead of demolishing Bothwell Middle School under the bond proposal, some bond opponents favor a grade re–alignment option that MAPS rejected.

Dan Adamini says he would have wanted MAPS to use Graveraet as a middle school and to have Bothwell serve as the home of Marquette Alternative High School, instead of closing Bothwell, moving the middle schoolers to a new addition at the high school and continuing to use Graveraet as the alternative high school.

Dr. Joe Lubig works at NMU in what was once Whitman School.

He feels if MAPS waits for better economic times to take out a bond, taxpayers will feel even more of a pinch because of higher interest rates.

However, opponents say only a 12–to–18–month wait may be necessary.

Bond opponent Bob Wilson says if the bond proposal fails, he wouldn’t mind seeing another proposal come to a vote after taking that length of time to involve residents, faculty, parents and the school board in a proposal that, in his opinion, makes more sense financially than the current proposal.

Tomorrow, in Part 3, we’ll see what the district will look like should the bond issue pass.