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April 30, 2013

School district will seek millage to upgrade security

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

Keeping students secure will be a top priority on the list of renovations to schools in the Troy School District, as district officials move forward to ask voters to approve 4.4 mills in November for school upgrades.

For the past seven years, voters in Troy have been assessed 4.95 mills to fund bonds for upgrades in the district. That levy is set to expire, and this November, the district will ask voters to approve a seven-year, 4.4 millage levy to raise $125 million through 2020.

District officials plan to meet with the community to share information about the bond request in coming weeks. Informational podcasts will be available on the school district website, www.troy.k12.mi.us.

Kerry Birmingham, community and media relations director for the Troy School District, said that if the millage is approved, taxes in Troy would not go up from current rates.

“There’s a good chance they would go down, depending on the assessment,” Birmingham said.

John Castellana, of TMP Architects, gave the Troy School District Board of Education a look at plans for the upgrades at a board workshop April 23. “We wanted to get a start putting together information for the bond issue,” said Troy School District Superintendent Barbara Fowler.

The proposed upgrades include security modifications at all buildings, reconfiguration to accommodate smoother traffic flows, expansion of the gym at Smith Middle School, acoustical improvements to music classrooms at Troy High School, upgrades to restrooms and new space for an auto shop at Athens High School, and converting a pool at the International Academy-East into instructional space for special needs students.

If approved, the bond would also fund new buses.

Enhancements to security would involve replacement of exterior doors on buildings throughout the district, in some cases expanding the vestibules, and buzzer systems and remodeling for front office areas.

Fowler said it would be “pretty simple” to do a lot of the secure entrances.

“I think it would be fairly easy to accomplish,” Castellana said. “It could be done in the summertime.”

He said the preliminary plans presented to the board April 23 “were the first pass at a lot of solutions.”

Birmingham said the proposed upgrades were suggested by the Facilities Study Team, comprised of volunteers who evaluated all buildings in the district in early 2012.

“These things are long overdue and long needed,” said Trustee Gary Hauff.

“This protects the investment we’ve put into properties to date, and protects and sustains it,” Trustee Ida Edmunds said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.