School board tables Grosse Pointe North health clinic

Julia Roeder '25, Page Editor

FUNDING FRENZY An emergency School Board meeting (pictured above) was host to hours of comments on the new health clinic at North. (Julia Roeder ’25)

On Jan. 17, 2023, Grosse Pointe School Board members Virginia Jeup and Lisa Papas called an emergency meeting for the board two days later on Jan. 19. This meeting was to discuss the recent approval for a health clinic set to go into Grosse Pointe North High School.

The opposition to the health clinic was sent in by lawyer Anthony L. DeLuca, stating that the district using the sinking funds given by the government is an unlawful use of the money. At the meeting, there were nearly three hours of public comments.

“I think if we can use the sinking funds for softball diamonds, I think we can use it for a clinic,” said Rebecca Gualdoni, who is a mother of a freshman at Grosse Pointe North. “One in four Grosse Pointe North students don’t have healthcare or access to mental health services. This would be at the benefit of countless students throughout the Grosse Pointe Schools.”

Sinking fund money is derived from voters living in the Grosse Pointe Schools area in the form of a property tax assessment. Grosse Pointe’s 2019 sinking fund vote would provide the clinic’s facilities. The clinic will be funded by a State of Michigan grant and cost Grosse Pointe Schools nothing annually. The construction costs at North to build the clinic are estimated to cost more than $900,000. The clinic will provide an estimated $350,000-$400,000 worth of services to students according to an FAQ posted on the district’s website.

“I do not think that (the clinic) is needed for this school district,” Ray Safadi, a Grosse Pointe Woods resident, said. “There are other clinics for students to go to instead. This would be a disgrace.”

On the opposing end, many public comments focused on how this clinic would benefit attendance rates and parents who can’t leave work to bring their child into an Urgent Care. According to the district, 26 percent of Grosse Pointe North students are economically disadvantaged, meaning not every student can afford expensive medical bills.

“Every single one of those lives are important to me and to this community. Their lives are worth my life, and my tax money,” First Lutheran Church Pastor Sean Motley said. “I expect that my money is being used responsibly and rightly, but in the past I have seen a waste of taxpayer money, but I can not think of a better way to use our money than to save our children.”

Board members Virginia Jeup and Lisa Papas called this board meeting with less than a 48 hour notice, upsetting many in the community. In their announcement, Lawyer DeLuca’s statement expressed his concern that the state of Michigan would pursue legal action for an unlawful use of sinking funds. Many speakers of the public voiced their concern that DeLuca has no expertise in school finance.

“If we keep shaving off millions of dollars, we don’t have the financial resources for this,” Papas said. “I don’t agree to use the sinking funds on this, but I believe we could do this another way.”

Ultimately, the board voted 4-3 to table the interagency agreement between Beaumont Health Agency and Grosse Pointe schools. School Board members that voted table the agreement were worried that legal action against the school district would be pursued in the near future.