MPS board plans proposal for upgrades

Plans to create a proposal for facility upgrades in the Midland Public Schools area are moving forward in the MPS board.  Following a study conducted with French Associates and Barton Malow Company assessing the structural soundness, safety, and efficiency of MPS buildings, the findings and proposals of possible renovations and their estimated costs were presented at the Board of Education meeting on Aug. 11.

“We can’t kick the can down the road because it will become more expensive and tax payers will not be able to pay for it,” Superintendent Michael Sharrow said in an email interview. “It is our generation’s turn.”

The plans for renovation cover a wide variety of needs for the MPS district. The average age of schools in the MPS area is 61-years-old and many need structural upgrades for better efficiency and to be up to date in modern safety requirements. This includes replacing boiler systems with energy efficient ones as well as replacing original windows and doors. Improvements in parking lots, installing better video surveillance, and replacing old blackboards and PA systems are also being considered.

One area faicng greater attention is the area dubbed the Central area which includes Central Middle School, Eastlawn Elementary, and Carpenter Elementary. Different options available for that area include renovating the Performing Arts Center and demoing the rest of the school to make way for a new elementary school or simply renovating it.

“All three buildings are near their end of life but pose unique challenges because of the [Central] auditorium and Carpenter’s historical significance,” Sharrow said.

Other elementary schools would also have their gyms or cafeterias renovated into media centers and additional footage would be added on for areas better suited to the learning environment needed for 21st Century education.

In total the estimated costs for the all the renovations range from $116.5 million to $140 million. To cover the costs, the MPS board is proposing a bond issue.

“We feel it is appropriate to look at a bond issue,” Sharrow said. “MPS has no school debt. It’s time we reinvest into MPS.”

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Mary Noble

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