Saturday, January 01, 2000

Milan voters asked to fund new high school

Milan voters asked to fund new highschool
The Ann Arbor News
By Pamela Appea

Milan, Michigan—In an effort to ease overcrowding at Milan’s three schools, the school board voted last week to ask voters to fund a new high school.

Officials approved a preliminary bond application, which is under review by the state Department of Treasury.

If the bond application is approved, then the Milan school board will give residents a chance to vote on the $49.9 million bond issue March 7, 2000.

Superintendent Dennis McComb said the board expects the preliminary application to be approved mid-January.

If the bond issue is passed, Milan schools could have a new grade configuration plan installed as early as 2003, McComb said.

Roberta Myra, co-chair of the Mialn 2000 and Beyond Committee said committee members are working to talk to voters in the next few weeks to get as many “yes” voters for the bond vote as possible.

A district resident and parent of school-age children, Myyra said the committee had considered different plans for Milan area school, including renovating of existing school buildings.

“We decided recently that the best way to solve all the overcrowding problems and still leave room for growth in the future was to build a new high school,” she said.

With a packed elementary school, crowded middle school and a slightly-below capacity high school, district administrators say an approved bon would give the school district the tools they need to address Milan’s long-term growth.

Milan’s elementary school, Paddock Elementary, is the most crowded, with 830 students, McComb said. At the middle and high schools, the superintendent said, several teachers do not have their own classrooms and store materials and planners on mobile carts.

A new high school, if built, would add a fourth school building to the community. School officials said following the proposed grade configuration changes, the current high school would become the middle school for 6-8 graders, the current middle school would house 3-5 grades and the current elementary school would house students at the K-2 level.

Planning at this stage, said architectural firm Fanning/Howey Associates, Inc., is at the most basic level.

George Kacan, executive director and chief architect, said the firm is discussing the programming needs of the Milan community, discussing logistics like how large classrooms will be or how many classrooms the building will need.

“Once the bond issues passes … we actually get into the design work,” Kacan said.

Milan school district officials said they are using enrollment projections several years down the road to judge how large the community will be five years from now. Officials say at this point, they are anticipating a steady but undramatic annual growth rate.

The proposed high school could comfortably accommodate 700-plus students, McComb said. The current high school has 650 students, the superintendent said. In June, the school board delayed the bond issue, originally proposed for September 1999.

The Milan 2000 and Beyond committee, composed of residents and school board members, convened in September 1998.

Copyright 2000 by the Ann Arbor News