West Franklin USD 287 patrons will have opportunities to learn and ask questions about the proposed $13 million bond issue for the schools.
The special walk-in ballot election takes place June 12. To vote in the election, one must live in the USD 287 school district and be a registered voter. There are 10 polling places across the district to cast votes, and the voter registration deadline is May 22, a Franklin County Clerk’s Office official said. Registration forms are available online at franklincoks.org or at the clerk’s office, 315 S. Main St., Ottawa.
A KIDS (Keep Improving District Schools) Committee will sponsor three informational meetings, May 16-18, starting at 7 p.m. each evening, in locations across the district. The May 16 meeting is set for the Williamsburg Public Library. The May 17 meeting will take place at Michigan Valley Fellowship Hall, and the May 18 meeting will be at the Pomona Community Center.
The goal of the KIDS committee and the meetings are to give every USD 287 voter enough information to make an informed decision at the polls, according to a KIDS news release. Schools are vital parts of the quality of life and economics of all communities, the release said. Quality education is difficult to accomplish in facilities that are outdated or inadequate, the release said.
The bond issue covers upgrades to the middle school/high school in Pomona, Williamsburg Elementary and Appanoose Elementary to provide more usable space and make the learning environment safer. The bond will address safety and security challenges at the schools, plus the lack of classroom space and extra-curricular needs, a school official said.
“Safety is the main thing,” Jerry Turner, West Franklin superintendent, said in an earlier interview. “We are going to add a hallway and when weather is bad, it keeps things safer.”
Part of the safety upgrades includes building a covered walkway between the middle school and high school and new vocational room for agriculture and wood shop. This would replace the current shops located across K-68 — requiring students to cross the busy highway to reach it.
“We’ve been asking kids to cross 68 highway and you can just imagine the safety issues,” Turner said. “It will make it a lot safer for our kids. Our wood shop is very small and those are big things at West Franklin. The CTE (career and technology education) classes are important to not just the kids but to the community. We have a lot of kids in FFA and a lot that take wood shop class.”
The largest upgrades will be at the secondary school in Pomona. At the middle school/high school, a new gymnasium will be built that will serve as the main gym for athletic competitions, pep rallies, graduation and physical education classes. Also planned is a new eight-lane track with a rubberized surface. Additional rooms will include a new music room and weight room. The new music room will double as a storm shelter for the school.
Williamsburg Elementary will get a new enclosed walkway between the main school and the cafeteria. There also will be improvements to the gym windows which will make it safer during severe weather.
At Appanoose Elementary, a new music room, which will serve as a storm shelter that can accommodate all students and staff, is planned. The school does not currently have a storm shelter.
The committee has emphasized this is an opportune time to address these challenges with low interest rates (estimated at 4 percent) and a special program offering school districts additional state aid, the release said. West Franklin is eligible for 3 percent additional state aid to help retire the bonds, which is an estimated $580,000, the release said.
The KIDS committee is printing and mailing flyers and an informational brochure to West Franklin patrons this month, the release said.