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Hastings Area Schools voters turn down a $21.9 million bond proposal

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School officials said with the funds, the district can continue to reinvest in the schools to keep the schools great without increasing the tax rate. (WWMT / Hannah Knowles){ }

Hastings Area Schools voters unofficially squashed a $21.9 million bond proposal on the Aug. 3 ballot.

The unofficial results showed the proposal failed by 84 votes during the election Tuesday. The millage rate for the district would be lowered from 6.9 mills to 6 mills, according to Hastings Area Superintendent Matt Goebel.

According to the district's bond proposal website, the millage rate was scheduled to drop 0.90 mills. The new proposal would have lowered it from 6.9 mills to 6.8 mills.

Some voters asked: "Why now?" School officials said with the funds, the district can continue to reinvest in the schools to keep them great without increasing the tax rate.

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Hastings Area Schools financially broke down the millage proposal. Here's how it evens out:

This one bond will be sold in two series to save interest costs.

  • Series, 2021: $14,900,000 Term: 18 years, 6 months
  • Series, 2023: $7,000,000 Term: 16 years, 6 months

The website notes by selling the bonds in two parts, it allows the district to spread out the purchases of technology and buses. According to Michigan law, technology must be paid in five years and buses in six years.

Goebel said the debt levy of 6.80 mills was scheduled to drop beginning in 2026, 2027.

"The projects will start next summer and we will start with the high school roof which is one of the highest priorities within the bond proposal," Goebel said. "It's aging out, the high school was built in 1969. We have patched it but we are trying to do our best with taxpayers' money and I think it's time to replace a roof that is getting to be pretty old."

"The building has very good bones and if we can put a new roof on it, we feel like we can expand the years on the building," Goebel said.

The second main item the money would be used for was a new air purification system.

"In this day and age, of making sure virus, bacteria and mold that that quality of air is essential," Goebel said. "A lot of these students and staff are in these buildings six to seven hours each day for 180 days. As you have seen over the last few years, hospitals are going to these units and I think you are seeing more school districts turn to them."

Goebel said the air purification system works to remove pathogens from the air using cold plasma ionization. It does this by creating ions that attach themselves to viruses, bacteria, or mold spores and evaporate their threats. This system also reduces the energy use of a system bringing in outside air, so the efficiency and cost savings go back to the school.

Goebel said research has shown this lowers student and staff sick days.

In addition to the new roof at the high school and the air purification system, Goebel said the funds would have been used for multiple things:

District-wide:

  1. Buses (3-4): 1997 buses will be replaced first
  2. Student Technology: Student and instructional
  3. Security: Cameras, doors, single-paned windows, FOB’s
  4. Air purification system: Add on to the existing system
  5. Energy upgrades to save costs: Mechanical, electrical, replace single-paned windows, circulation pumps, air handlers and unit vents, etc.
  6. Student equipment & furnishings: Playground equipment, student desks, student equipment, instructional needs, etc.
We also have a very large school district so our busses take the toll each and every day, back roads, different townships, and so we do have three to four buses and we are hoping to replace those quickly." — Superintendent of Hastings Area Schools Matt Goebel

Star Elementary:

  • Replace an original flat portion of roof from 1997 Update playground equipment
  • Upgrade to LED lighting & ceilings
  • Air purification system
  • Replace 1997 boilers with high efficiency Install security cameras & keying Classroom heating/cooling units

Southeastern Elementary:

  • New parent drop-off
  • Update playground equipment in conjunction with community partnerships
  • Upgrade to LED lighting
  • Replace windows- original single-paned windows from 1957 Air purification system
  • Remodel bathrooms
  • Install security cameras & keying

Northeastern Elementary:

  • Update playground equipment Upgrade to LED lighting
  • Replace windows & siding - original single-paned windows from 1957
  • Air purification system
  • Remodel bathrooms
  • Install security cameras & keying Energy upgrades

Central Elementary:

  • Update playground equipment
  • New bell tower - the old tower has to be replaced New sidewalk
  • Upgrade to LED lighting
  • New classroom & media center ceilings Air purification system
  • Remodel bathrooms
  • Install security cameras & keying

Hastings Middle School:

  • Replace roof and insulation
  • Renovate existing locker rooms from 1954
  • Upgrade to LED lighting
  • Air purification system
  • Repave parking lot
  • Site work- reconstruct needed paving areas and base
  • Install security cameras

Hastings High School:

  • Replace roof and insulation Air purification system
  • Renovate existing locker rooms from 1970
  • Asbestos removal
  • Upgrade to LED lighting
  • Classroom carpeting replacement
  • Replace rest of single-pane windows for energy savings Security cameras & keying
  • Remodel media center, kitchen, athletic lobby, bathrooms, classrooms from 1970
  • Install new PA system

"I think playground equipment is another big one that gets overlooked," Goebel said. "A lot of our students learn within these walls but remember when you were a kid, and going outside after lunch or learning with social-emotional learning, it helps our students and staff and getting a break from in-class learning."

Click here to learn more about the $21.9 million bond proposal for Hastings Area Schools.

Connect with Hannah Knowles on Facebook and Twitter. Send story ideas to hknowles@sbgtv.com.