Escanaba School District looks at financing renovations

ESCANABA — The Escanaba School Board was updated on the progress of the possible implementation of a sinking fund in the district during its committee of the whole meeting Monday.

During a September meeting, board members allowed Superintendent Coby Fletcher to move forward with conducting more research into a sinking fund. A sinking fund millage is a limited property tax to fund major repairs and renovations to school buildings.

Fletcher was instructed by board members to ask other districts within the Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District (DSISD) which have sinking funds to see how having the funds have worked for them. Schools within the DSISD that have sinking funds include Rapid River School and Big Bay de Noc School.

The committee met for the first time last week, explained Fletcher. Attendees consisted of district administration, staff, community members, and school board members.

Fletcher noted the members discussed the “basics” of a sinking fund — what it is, what it does, and what the funds can and cannot be used for.

“We’re taking a close look at things and progressing well,” said Fletcher.

A capitol improvements list for different schools throughout the district was also created during the session, added Fletcher.

With this list in hand, the next step forward will be scheduling site visits to “price and prioritize” the possible needs and improvements that could be done with the sinking fund money. District visits will take place at Escanaba High School and Lemmer Elementary School.

During the next work session on Nov. 21, Fletcher said Kevin Pascoe, director of business services, will address the current status of millages and how money that comes into the Escanaba School District from the community has been used.

In other business, the board was provided information about the Title VI Indian Education Program at Escanaba schools.

Junior High Principal Jude VanDamme gave members with an overall view of what the program offers Indian education students within the district. Programs include fundraisers for scholarships to be given out to graduating seniors, classroom activities, presentations and more, said VanDamme.

The program is fully grant funded, noted VanDamme, including receiving grants from Hannahville Indian Community.

With some of the grants, the Iprogram has also provided funding for the Escanaba Robomos, new orchestra equipment, the Webster Elementary School garden, Escanaba Student Success Center furniture and field trips, said VanDamme.

VanDamme also thanked the volunteers and other staff that provide time for the Indian Education program including outgoing coordinator of the program, Gail Rice, and volunteers Roy and Lonnie Sebeck. Roy and Lonnie have been volunteers with the Indian Education program for over 30 years.

The board’s next meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m. at the Escanaba Upper Elementary courtyard room.