An update on bond construction

The last weeks of school are always an exciting time for students, parents and educators. Classrooms and hallways are filled with anticipation for the summer and while the weather hasn’t cooperated thus far, the warmer weather is on its way, which means more time spent outdoors enjoying the beautiful splendor that Michigan has to offer.

For many of us, there’s extra excitement in the air as this summer approaches as we look forward to launching the improvement projects the community approved during the bond vote last year in support of our Niles 2020 initiative. Before we break ground on Phase I initiatives, we wanted to provide a brief update on the process and where we stand today.

Between now and the year 2020, residents will begin seeing many changes throughout the district. These changes will: provide necessary improvements to existing classrooms and technology tools to support teaching and learning; strengthen security measures to allow for a safe environment for students staff and visitors; improve the energy efficiency of air quality in our facilities; and enhance instructional technology, providing students and staff with critical tools and skills.

Earlier this school year, we shared our Phase I timeline with the community. After receiving design and cost estimates several months ago, we accepted construction bids in March. Since then, we have been carefully reviewing these bids to see how they align with the budget for each of the four schools scheduled under Phase I – Howard-Ellis, Ring Lardner, Eastside and Ballard. Work is scheduled to begin at Howard-Ellis and Ring Lardner in June, while we are currently evaluating the bids for Eastside and Ballard. The review of the bids is a normal process that our experts engage in to ensure we are able to get the most for our money.

Anyone who has been through major renovation projects knows that delays aren’t uncommon and that modifications to plans and scope of work are often necessary. If changes to our timeline do become necessary, we will inform the community on the status of these projects. In the meantime, we encourage residents to visit our website and join us at monthly board meetings for updates on the bond initiative.

Last fall, we shared with you that Niles Community Schools received an improved credit rating over the summer, obtaining an actual interest rate of 3.88 percent rather than the expected 4.75 percent rate. The savings to local taxpayers over the life of the bond is expected to be $8.8 million. Thus the impact to taxpayers will be substantially lower than originally expected.

We are but a few weeks away from breaking ground at Howard-Ellis and Ring Lardner, beginning our journey to making critical improvements at all of our schools. We are grateful for the tremendous support we have received from the community over the past few years and look forward to strengthening the learning environment throughout the district. Working together, we can ensure that the community’s children receive the high quality education they deserve.

 

Dr. Dan Applegate is Superintendent at Niles Community Schools.

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