School Board members are seriously researching ways to build a new K-12 school in Altha.
A School Board workshop was held Monday to discuss potential options for constructing new schools across the county. When talks led to Altha being a critical need, it was suggested that the board approach a bank and secure a loan for the project.
School Board member Kelly King, who represents district 2 in Altha, says she is definitely not leaning toward the loan, but wants to research every possibility.
“Of course, financing is definitely not the best choice,” King tells The County Record. “We want to make sure the taxpayers are protected. However, we do have to move forward and explore all the options. We’re still going to continue with the special facilities route and see what’s in our best interest as far as time frame and money. My overall priority is the safety of the children. We have 78 percent of students at Altha School in portables or the main building that was constructed in 1928. At Carr School, 45 percent of our students are in portables. That’s why I feel it’s important that we look at our options very closely to decide how quickly we can move forward and be cost effective, as well. But safety has to be our top priority. There is also the possibility of exploring special appropriations.”
Danny Hassig, the board member in district 5, says he is definitely opposed to getting a loan for the project, particularly since no voter referendum is needed to take on the debt.
“You’re going to start spending taxpayers’ money in a recession that is supposed to last until 2014 when you haven’t given our teachers a raise or a step,” Hassig remarks. “We’ve got taxpayers out there now with utility bills higher than their social security checks and they’re having to make a choice between food, medicine, or paying their bills, whether it’s utilities or taxes. It is morally irresponsible for the School Board to saddle the taxpayers of this county with additional debt without a referendum. Plus, we would have to put up our existing schools for collateral. Special facilities funding was created for rural districts just like ours because we don’t have the tax base to bond or to borrow money. We should wait until it comes around and apply again. That was the plan. I told them this was not a viable plan and, basically, a waste of time to discuss.”
The School Board is going to schedule another meeting at the end of February to discuss potential loan needs to fund the project. Watch The County Record for further details once the meeting has been scheduled.