Voters approve mill tax renewal for Sam AdamsPublished 2:07pm Thursday, February 25, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
It was a day of celebration at Sam Adams Elementary School Wednesday.
After hearing the news Tuesday that voters approved the 2.4-mill tax renewal that will provide $16 million to convert Sam Adams into a K-6 building, principal DeeAnn Voss could not stop smiling.
The vote was 553 yes to 390 no. There were 6,122 voters registered.
“I am ecstatic,” Voss said. “I cannot wait to see some of the changes start. I wish it would start tomorrow.”
The changes will be quite dramatic.
Two new wings will be added to Sam Adams, one for kindergarten and first grade classrooms and another two-story wing for second through sixth grade rooms. A total of 31 new classrooms will be added. The playground will also be completely enclosed, making classrooms the only entry point.
The project will also improve the indoor air quality, update lighting and technology and provide new life safety systems, sprinklers and fire alarms.
This was the third bond proposal to update schools that are all 40 to 50 years old. The two previous proposals were in May and November of 2007 and both failed decisively.
“We redesigned it and went for the very essentials,” superintendent Greg Weatherspoon said of the renewal.
Weatherspoon was excited to hear the news as well.
“You have to reach to the skies to pull me down,” he said. “A new school is like a regeneration and a motivator and does a lot for the community. I don’t think people understand the full magnitude of this.”
Voss said staff at Sam Adams were all smiles Wednesday.
“It will affect the schools because the people working within the school know the community supports them and want the best future for Cassopolis,” she said. “The staff was ecstatic about it. The kids are looking forward to a new school with new classrooms.”
Voss and Weatherspoon both credited community member Scott Ward and his grassroots effort to promote the issue – what began to be known as the “Ranger Pride Project.”
Several community forums led by Ward’s community group took place before Tuesday’s vote.
“I have to tip my hat to him. He did a great job communicating,” Weatherspoon said. “He was able to analyze the community and carried the mission and vision.”
Weatherspoon believes the new building will benefit everyone in the school.
“I think the first thing we should see is happier kids,” he said. “The quality of lighting will improve, fresh air, top level technology. The ripple effect will be huge. It will be a rejuvenation for the teachers as well.”
The renewal will continue to cost residents $2.40 for every $1,000 of taxable property value.