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School bond plan to be discussed at special meeting

Friday, January 10, 2003

The Marshall Board of Education will need to decide in the next few weeks if it wishes to place a bond issue on the ballot for the April 8 election.

The district Facility Committee made a recommendation to the board at its Dec. 17 meeting that it place an issue on the April ballot to build a new grades 3-5 elementary school, renovate Bueker Middle School, construct two new high school science labs and air condition the Industrial Arts building.

The committee also presented a list of four different properties for consideration as the site for some type of new school complex.

At its Dec. 17 meeting, the board seemed favorable toward the ideas presented by the committee, but they haven't yet made a final decision of whether to place an issue on the April ballot and, if so, exactly what that issue would entail.

The board has scheduled a special meeting for this coming Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. in the high school library. During the meeting, the board will discuss and evaluate the various components of the committee's proposal and look at the features, as well as the cost of the proposal.

The proposal recommended by the Facility Committee called for cost of the bond issue to range from 10 to 13.6 million dollars. Preliminary information that had been provided to the committee indicated that it could cost around $13.5 million to accomplish all of the things that were desired. However, some members of the committee thought that this was too high of a cost figure and felt that the proposed amount of the bond issue needed to be reduced.

During Tuesday's meeting, the board will look at the cost projections and see if the figures can be reduced. The district architect and construction management representatives are scheduled to attend Tuesday's meeting. After the open discussion of the bond issue proposal, the board will move into closed session and discuss the four different site options with members of the Facility Committee.

A site negotiation team consisting of school board members Jay Barton, Ed Kays and Jeanette Klinge, along with Facility Committee members George Clemens, Scott Hartwig and Walter Keith, have met with each of the four property owners in an attempt to determine the "bottom line" costs as well as potential options and features of each piece of property.

Discussion of real estate and the negotiation process for selecting a piece of property is an area that the Sunshine Law allows to be discussed in closed session. We certainly don't want to hide anything from the public and we have tried to be very up front and open during this whole process.

However, when you are negotiating the price and options of a piece of property, it is often best to do the negotiating in closed session. Any decision that is made on any piece of land will be made public as soon as any agreement is finalized.

Why did we go to school last Friday?

Several people have asked me why we made the decision to go to school last Friday, Jan. 3, since that was the only day that we attended that whole week. We had originally been scheduled to have classes on both Thursday, Jan. 2, and Friday, Jan. 3, but the heavy snow on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning wiped us out for Thursday.

When developing our original school calendar, we probably wouldn't consider scheduling just one day of attendance for a week. For example, next year when New Year's Day falls on a Thursday, I don't think we will schedule Friday as an attendance day. We will probably wait and come back on Monday.

This year, however, Friday was scheduled on the calendar as an attendance day, and if we hadn't gone that day we would have to make a day up either at the end of the year or over spring break.

We simply decided that most people were ready to come back to school and that we should go ahead and attend. We're sorry if this presented a serious inconvenience for anyone.

District loses good friend

We were all saddened by the recent passing of Alvin Lowe, a former administrator in the Marshall School District.

Lowe had served the Marshall district as high school principal and superintendent of schools for a combined total of 28 years.

During his tenure as superintendent, Lowe provided a large part of the leadership for the passage of a bond issue to build the current Marshall High School and he was also very instrumental in the movement to convert the old Marshall High School into what is now Bueker Middle School. Marshall was always recognized as being on the cutting edge in adopting the middle school concept.

I always knew him as a very kind and caring individual who had a lot of common sense and did a good job of thinking things through. He was well respected across the state as a leader among superintendents and he was considered as an expert in the area of school finance.

Lowe was my principal when I was a seventh-grade student in Lexington and I felt at that time, as well as in his later administrative years that, even though he had an easygoing manner, things were always under control when he was in charge.

I know that many people in the community looked up to Lowe and we certainly appreciate the positive impact that he had on the school district and the lives of his many students and staff members.