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Chamber Opposes School Bonding Plan Change To Spring Vote Urged

Chamber Opposes School Bonding Plan  Change To Spring Vote Urged image
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The board of direerors of the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce today went on record in opposition to the proposed cali for a $15,525,000 school bond issue to be voted on Jan. 8, 1968. The board, at a special meeting held in the Chamber offices this morning, approved a statement asking the Ann Arbor Board of Education to put a bond proposal before the voters in May or June of 1968 for those tems which can be shown to be absolutely necessary. Special note was taken by the Chamber Board of the fact that in November, 1965, the Chamber took a position in favor of the $18,000,000 bond issue voted that same month. The board of directors agreed that future planning for the third high school must de undertaken early and that sufficient monies should be devoted to these purposes. However, the Chamber feit the community should have the opportunity of evaluating the cost of the third high school in terms of per square foot cost, per pupil cost, aesthetic charaeteristics and curriculum requirements after these investigations have been made. In addition, the Chamber Board said it is concerned with the $7,000,000 cost for the third high school to accommodate 1,200 studenBTe average expenditure for such a project throughout the state of Michigan in 1966-67 was $2,334 per pupil, which would mean a 'total cost nf .ti2.8nn.noo. "Assuming our demand for excellence in our school facilities at 200 per cent of the average cost, this expenditure would total $5,600,000. Huron High School is reported to cost $11,581,000 to serve 1,500 students at a per pupil cost of $7,72Q. It is significant that both Pioneer and Huron High School exceeded school board estimates anc required additional monies," said the Board resolution. The Chamber policy statement also made the following suggestions to the Board of Education: "We suggest that the Ann Arbor Board of Education put before the voters in May or June of 1968 a bond proposal for those items which are absolutely necessary, these include the significant number of items voted upon two years ago, and to include planning monies for capital needs for two to five years henee. Other projects might be added only after exhaustive study as to need, cost, and consideration of alternatives. This delay, according to information furnished the Chamber by the Board of Education, would still leave ampie time to place under construction those projects listed as immediate needs. The Board takes particular note that of the [m25JM)Qbond issue proposedj a minimum of $5,500,000 is desgnated for projects voted upon two years ago and $7,000,000 for ;he third senior high school." The Chamber board recognized recent steps inaugurated by the school board to make more detailed studies of costs and needs during the development of bond proposals. But the board statement says, "a bonding proposal put before the voters in May or June would give the electorate sufficient opportunity to become acquainted with the substance and need of the proposals and in all probability the chamber would then support the bonding proposals." With a vote in May or June, the chamber group said, the school board still will have ampie time to accomplish its building goals as projected in j the $15.5 million issue for Janu-I ary, even though it has apparently moved their construction schedule up to 1969 for the third high school. The Chamber statement expressed regret that the school board did not group its request, stating relative priorities and needs. They suggested three groupings. 1) Could include the new junior high and elementary school, classroom additions to existing facilities, as well as pre-planning money and land for future buildings. 2) Could include the library addition and new branches, as well as building and ground facilities, the administration building, apprentice training facilities and renovations. 3) Could consist only of the third high school. The Chamber board said its po.útion in no way reflects a lack of confidence in the work of Assistant Supt. W. Scott Westerman Jr. or the school board, but does represent "a long realistic look at current conditions of the bonding market, the community tax load, and the school bond propósal asking for money at this time without clearly defined costs, needs and alternatives." The Chamber board pointed out that its policy statement was drafted only after extensive research conducted by their education finance subcommittee. This committee was composed of financial and management experts in the community.


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