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Bay plans for $2.8M in improvements

Daily Press file photo Bay College President Laura Coleman visits Bay’s courtyard, shortly after it was redesigned in 2018.

ESCANABA — After an operating millage proposal intended to fund a deferred maintenance project at Bay College was voted down in November 2019, the college has announced a revised $2.8 million plan for improvements to its infrastructure. A contract between the college and Johnson Controls (JCI) was approved at a Bay College Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday.

Last year, the millage proposal asked voters whether or not they were in favor of increasing the limitation on the amount of taxes that could be assessed against all property in Bay’s district boundaries by .8924 mills ($0.89 per $1,000 of taxable value) for 20 years from 2019 to 2038, inclusive. In Delta County’s Nov. 5, 2019 election, 1,758 voters (25.94 percent) supported the proposal. However, 5,019 voters (74.06 percent) were against it.

According to a press release issued by the college, the new plan will include minimal upgrades. These include two recently-completed roofs, as well as boilers, air handlers, parking lot lighting and efficiency measures.

Work on boilers, some air handlers, lighting in one parking lot and bathroom equipment will be funded by a $2.2 million bond, to be paid over the course of 14 years with annual capital improvement funds. Meanwhile, $400,000 in CARES Act funding will be used for upgrades to other air handling and ventilation systems at Bay, and $337,000 has already been spent on roof replacements.

Bay College President Laura Coleman said the scope of this work is much narrower than the scope of the previously-proposed project.

“That’s a very small portion of what we need to do,” she said.

Work on the projects is set to begin on the week of Sept. 21. They should be completed by the fall 2021 semester.

In other business, the board:

– discussed the ways in which classes are taught at Bay. 41 percent of the college’s classes this semester are being taught face-to-face, 35 percent are strictly online (an increase of 30 percent compared to the fall 2019 semester) and 24 percent are “hybrid” classes taught via Zoom and other methods (an increase of 214 percent compared to the fall 2019 semester).

– looked at Bay’s enrollment numbers for the fall 2020 semester.

“We’re one of two community colleges that have actually shown an increase in the state, and 50 percent of the community colleges have double-digit declines in enrollment,” Coleman said.

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