By Jim Bloch
The third time was a charm.
After defeats in 2016 and 2019, the East China School District celebrated the approval by voters of its 1.5 mill, $112.9 million bond proposal on March 10.
“On behalf of the East China School District and the board of education, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you for your support of Bond 2020,” said superintendent Suzanne Cybulla in a statement on the district’s website. “I am proud of our efforts, and I am excited for the opportunities that this bond provides for our students, parents, staff, and the community.”
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Voters approved the measure 5,337-4,850. The split was 52.3 percent of voters in support of the proposal and 47.6 opposed.
In the city of St. Clair, 62.7 percent of voters endorsed the bond; the final vote was 1,249-742.
On a house with a market value of $100,000 and a state equalized value of $50,000, the cost of the bond proposal will be $75 per year — or $50,000 x 1.5.
On a house with a market value of $120,000, the tax increase will be $90 per year.
“The projects approved in this proposal will completely reshape the educational experience delivered at our schools,” said Cybulla.”
The new bond issue will address declining enrollment in the district, safety, security, energy efficiency and technology within each school.
Enrollment has fallen from 5,766 in 2001 to 3,982 in this year and is expected to continue to decline over the next half-decade. Basically, 100 more seniors graduate annually than new kindergartners begin each school year.
The plan calls for renovation of Marine City and St. Clair High Schools into separate grade 6-12 schools. In the 2019, the proposal called for merging the schools into a single high school. St. Clair Middle School in St. Clair Twp. will become an elementary school. It appears that Gearing Elementary in St. Clair will close, following the shuttering of Eddy Elementary at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. The district will add flexible learning (Arts, STEM/STEAM, skilled trades) classrooms and expand the early childhood education wing at the administration building on Meisner Road. The bond proposal will address specific needs of each school, the Performing Arts Center and the East China Stadium.
“The School District will now begin to develop a plan for the detailed design process, as well as site, traffic, and engineering studies,” said Cybulla.
In other St. Clair County results, voters in Casco renewed the township’s .99 mill tax for road improvement and maintenance, 734-214, and Yale voters renewed the school district’s operating millage, 1,576-660, and the district’s sinking fund millage, 1,498-731.