Marion Public Schools seeks $5.2 million bond in May election

MARION — Marion Public Schools is hoping to receive voter approval for a $5.2 million bond proposal during the upcoming May 5 election.

According to ballot language, the millage will cost district residents $1.75 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation for 16 years.

The ballot also will state the district's simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire the bond debt is 2.63 mils, but MPS Superintendent Mort Meier said the language refers to the estimated cost of the district's loans as a whole, not the proposed $5.2 million.

Meier explained the bonds are needed to provide upgrades necessary to keep the schools running efficiently and for the benefit of student learning.

"It's not that we haven't done a good job taking care of what we have, it's just that some things need to be replaced," he said. "Some of what we have is simply really old."

The MPS district extends into townships in Clare and Osceola counties and has a total of about 500 students with two buildings. The elementary school was built in the 1930s, while the middle/high school was built in the 1960s.

The bonds, Meier said, will help update the heating system and boiler at the high school, renovate locker rooms, remodel and upgrade the kitchens and coolers at each school, create secure entrances into the buildings for additional safety and provide technological upgrades such as projectors, laptops and other instructional devices.

Additionally, the district is in need of at least four buses, to replace ones which will be unfit for service at the end of the school year, according to Meier. With the bond funds, he said he will replace those four buses and purchase an additional two near the end of the 16-year time, as well as provide paved parking and build an elongated car port for the buses to sit under. The awning will better protect the buses from weather, reducing rust and other issues.

Now, as election day nears, Meier is asking the community to step up and provide for the next generation of graduates.

"I am here on behalf of the students and to do that which they cannot do themselves," he added. "I want to give our kids the very best we can give them. I want our kids to be proud of our school."