Adequate infrastructure is crucial for a healthy student body

March 10, 2017

Wallpaper is peeling. Ceilings are leaking. Tiles are missing. While South’s infrastructure is falling apart, some elementary schools in the district are enjoying luxurious 21st century styled classrooms.

We believe that the district should abridge the gap between the Grosse Pointe schools by fixing simple repairs before implementing advanced styled classrooms at elementary schools.

Recently, the school board discovered that the GPPSS has a 1.5 million dollar structural deficit from the 2016-2017 school year. Because of this, the school board is working diligently to evaluate the budget and make necessary changes to raise fund equity.

The most beneficial way to do this is by cutting unnecessary funds and to avoid cutting back on infrastructure, repairs and staff budgets. There must be a balance between fixing the deficit in a way that does not negatively affect students and staff while fixing improvements within the school.

As discussed in the Jan. 9 school board meeting, District Deputy Superintendent for Business and Operations Lisa Abbey stated the plan is to raise fund equity from 8.5 percent to 10 percent. The proposed budget for next year plans for a 2 million dollar reduction, but an addition of 3.1 million dollar from the Wayne County Enhancement Millage, which is an added tax revenue to the school district.

What has been brought up in meetings, and what our ultimate goal is, is to have the enhancement budget strictly cover capital improvements. Even just using 1 million dollar or 2 million dollar of this fund; plus 2.56 million dollar from the sinking fund, a fund specifically used for repairs and improvements, would double the amount for capital improvements.

Emergency repairs are not planned. Prioritizing funds is necessary so when a roof, pipe or wall needs replacing, the funds for the project will be ready.  Once the funds are secured, it is up to the district to begin projects to follow up on repairs that have not yet been fixed in the schools.

In fact, there has been a water leak in the IA building stairs for over five years, according to Board member Ahmed Ismail. During the Feb. 13 board meeting, Abbey proposed a bid to fix the longstanding issue. She asks for an approval of $118,000 to begin the project this upcoming summer. It is this improvement and others, like the remodeling of the bathroom in the main building, that show strategic utilization of spendings and we hope to see more plans for improvements in the upcoming budget.

These types of issues should be the budgets first priority, rather than the addition of 21st century classrooms. Although Kerby, Mason and Maire have said good reviews about the these classrooms in the Oct. 10 board meeting, this addition is a bit premature to incorporate as the district deals with infrastructure issues. So far it has costed $58,358, yet it only affects a small amount of students and staff in the district.

Students, teachers and staff are the ones being directly affected by the distribution of the budget. They are the ones who have to sit in classrooms with leaky ceilings and tiles missing above them. They have to alter their routes around the building when sections of the school are blocked off because of flooding. Given all the time and effort put in at school, a nice and clean environment should be guaranteed to everyone in the building.

Government teacher Mike Rennell put it perfectly during the Jan. 23 school board meeting when he said, “It is the teachers, staff, administration, kids, parents and community members that make this a great district…let us not forget that they are the backbone to this school district.”

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