Bond has passed, now what?Published 3:56pm Thursday, March 4, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Spirits soared at Cassopolis Public Schools last week when voters approved a 2.4 mill-tax renewal that will provide $16 million to expand Sam Adams Elementary School into a K-6 building.
But just how soon will taxpayers see the results?
According to Scott Thomas, business manager for the district, the goal is to have the project completed by the fall of 2012.
Thomas said the design phase will get underway in the next several months.
“Architects will put together an actual drawing and plan for the new building with input from the staff,” Thomas said.
Once the building plans are finalized and approved, the project will go out for bid. Thomas hopes to get state approval and begin receiving bids from construction companies by late 2010 with construction to get underway 2011.
Thomas suspects much of the work will be done in the spring and summer of 2011.
While the construction process is being done, the district will also need to decide what to do with Squires Elementary School, which will no longer be needed by the district.
Thomas said the administration will work with the school board and attorneys to submit a request for proposal, allowing interested parties to submit a request to purchase the building.
“They must tell us how they would use the facility, what they are willing to pay and how it would impact the community,” Thomas said. “The whole goal is to sell it in hopes that whoever takes it on will develop the community.”
If the district doesn’t find a buyer, the building will be demolished.
“The ultimate goal is to not have a vacant school building in the community,” Thomas said.
Impact of a new school
Thomas believes a new Sam Adams Elementary will bring more than just a healthier learning environment for students.
“We hope the impact on the community will spur economic growth, increase enrollment and provide more resources from the state to go back into the classrooms,” Thomas said.
He also pointed out that some $80,000 was spent over the past three years just in “Band-Aid-type” maintenance between Sam Adams and Squires, both of which are more than 40 years old.
“We are going to be going from two buildings to support with maintenance, supply and utility costs to one building with a more efficient mechanical lighting system,” Thomas said. “We’re hoping to see significant savings.”