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Plymouth-Canton Aims for 2013 Bond, Closure of Central Middle School

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools looks to close antiquated school building while offering improvements to district's remaining buildings.

If Plymouth-Canton Community Schools has its way, voters in the district could hit the polls in May 2013 to decide whether to accept $117 million school bond proposal — and the closing of a historic middle school in Plymouth.

The bond, if approved, could include closing aging Central Middle School, which administrators say would be more cost-effective than renovating the building to implement more modern amenities. 

Rather than building a new middle school, however, the district would look to spend about $28 million to improve and expand its existing middle schools to take in the additional students.

District identifies needs for improvement

The bond also would cover other building improvements, technology upgrades, network renovations and replacing outdated buses and district vehicles.

Jeanne Farina, assistant superintendent for instructional services, said classroom upgrades would provide students with a "21st-century" learning environment.

With the proposed bond, funds would be used to provide laptops or tablets for teachers, document cameras, portable digital recording carts, interactive projectors  and other high-tech upgrades across Plymouth-Canton's elementary, middle and high schools, Farina said. 

Phil Freeman, assistant superintendent for facilities and operations, said $9.1 million would be used to replace a total of 88 high-mileage buses over six years and 15 aging district vehicles would be replaced over six years for $417,650.

If Central Middle School is closed, Freeman said, there are two options on the table to improve and add to the district's existing middle schools.

One would fill the schools to 89 percent capacity while providing additions to three middle schools and adding the equivalent of about 27 classrooms to the tune of $27.743 million, and the other would offer additions to four middle schools with the equivalent of 33 classrooms, filling the schools to about 86 percent capacity for $25.712 million, Freeman said.

The bond, if approved would be broken into two series, Freeman said, with $53.4 million sold in June 2013, and $63.6 to be sold in late 2015 or early 2016.

No millage increase planned

While the bond would raise $117 million for the school district's improvements, taxpayers won't see an increase as the bond would merely extend their current debt levy of 4.10 mills from an existing millage, Freeman said.

If the bond is approved, Freeman said, taxpayers would pay the same amount in 2013 that they paid in 2012. The tax burden for 2013 would primarily cover the existing millage while beginning to chip away at the new millage. 

By acting now, the district also can take advantage of unusually low interest rates, administrators said.

According to the district's projections, the district's existing millage would be paid off by 2030, and the new millage would be paid off by 2036. During this time, the tax burden would remain the same or decrease from 2012's amount each year.

In tangible figures, the district provided the following table to calculate the daily, monthly and yearly tax burden.

Home Market Value Assessed Value Cost Per Day Cost Per Month 2013-14 Cost $150,000 $75,000 $0.07 $2.19 $26.25 $200,000 $100,000 $0.10 $2.92 $35 $250,000 $125,000 $0.12 $3.65 $43.75 $300,000 $150,000 $0.14 $4.38 $52.50

Bond talks still preliminary

Talks still are just beginning for the bond proposal, and discussions and projections will continue before school board members agree to put the bond to a public vote.

Administrators provided the following timeline for the millage, leading to its projected May 7, 2013 vote:

  • December: Community receptivity survey
  • December: Informal presentations
  • Dec. 11: Board meeting (update on planning)
  • Jan. 8, 2013: Board meeting — Board informally approves treasury qualifications and scope of projects
  • Jan. 18, 2013: District and bond counsel meet with Department of Treasury
  • Feb. 12, 2013: Board meeting — Board officially adopts resolution to call election (approves formal pre-qualification application)
  • Feb. 26, 2013: Ballot language sent to election coordinator
  • May 7, 2013: Election
Jen November 30, 2012 at 12:42 AM
@DownUpside1- Ok, so not Canton but still not IN Plymouth either. they are all on the outskirts of town AND much further away than Central is to their residence now. Two of those that you mentioned are on the cusp of Canton/Plymouth twp.
DownUpside1 November 30, 2012 at 01:03 AM
So then what is the proposition of middle school to close? The study done last year show an annual decline, county-wide, in the birth rate since the early 2000's. And then subtract the students who have migrated to the charter schools who will not likely come back for middle school. Very soon, those lower student population numbers are going to work their way into the middle schools. At some point, it will likely be decided to close a school to right-size to fill classes. If the argument is to keep Central open, no matter how dilapadated, in order to have a middle school in the heart of DTP, then which middle school do you suggest closing when the population shifts hits.
Jen November 30, 2012 at 01:09 AM
I am counting on a rebound of the economy which will in turn re-energize our youthful population. The mass numbers of people moving out of State when the economy tanked is what dropped the numbers. I don't think that it is wise to close ANY of the schools just yet and Central can be updated, it does not need to be destroyed.
DownUpside1 November 30, 2012 at 01:33 AM
I'm not going to even try to logically debate vs. the belief that the economy will come back within the next few (like 2) years enough to feed hundreds of new students into the PCCS district. Not to mention the belief that the voters will approve a bond to update Central (bond that hasn't passed on previous ballots). Being optimistic is admirable, but to not be willing to look at the situation realistically shows a lack of problem solving.
P November 30, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Paul, I think the problem is that you used "ghetto like" and "downside to diversity" in the same paragraph. I actually took you very eloquently put ideas the same way that Rob did.
DG November 30, 2012 at 03:05 AM
I did not live here as a youth. It's an eye sore not because of bad architecture but because they blocked up all the windows. I moved to the CITY of Plymouth so my kids could walk to school not be bussed to some tin roofed block structure in the suburbs. Yes the building is run down, that doesn't mean it can be renovated. It's run down because rather than fix it the district choose to spend money building schools that are now at about 60% capacity, and getting worse. A proper renovation could be something the community and district could be proud of. The building sits at the center of the most densely populated part of the district. Almost every house is the City of Plymouth in within the 1 mile walking distance. If the boundaries weren't so screwed up you could probably fill it with walkers.
thinkscience November 30, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Why is it that all the downtown plymouth-ite's talk about not wanting to close this building yet fight tooth and nail to make sure the boundaries are drawn so their kids go to west instead of central? Why is it that the boundaries are drawn so that this school, in the heart of a wealthy city with few miniorities has the largest percentage of minority and free/reduced lunch students. If it's so great, then send your kids there, but we all know that won't happen. The FACT is this school cannot be renovated to have anywhere near the equity of the other middle schools. Study after study over the past decade has shown this. Teachers in the building are successful in spite of, not because of, the building they work in and if you ask any teacher in that building they will tell you they WANT it closed. I like historic buildings as much as the next person but schools need to be places where learning can occur without unneeded impairment.
DG November 30, 2012 at 01:29 PM
The FACT is Central has more acreage, more SQ footage and more amenities than any other middle school. Tennis courts, A track, full soccer field, full football field and a pool and sits in the heart of the most densely populated area in the district. It has more potential than any other middle school in the district ... if it was properly renovated, maintained and managed. I agree the districting is horrible, the boundary for the school should include the entire City of Plymouth. I, as a "Plymouth-ite", would be happy to send my kids there rather and West if they would fix the place and do a proper redistricting.
Paul Schulz December 01, 2012 at 06:00 AM
There are some things that you just don't change. Central is located there by our forefathers for a specific reason. To provide a school of higher learning for the "Plymouth Community". No need for buses, kids could walk, in the safety and security of the Plymouth sidewalks. Neighbors get to know the kids, as well as the shop owners, which offers the community interaction. Students may be declining now, but there is a greater demand today in residential housing in small communities, where neighborhood schools are preferred, for the reasons heard here. The dynamics are the same from many years ago. There is a great respect for a simpler way, an old fashioned way, and Plymouth, especially downtown offers that. I think it would be great to isolate ourselves from our neighboring communities, and protect our way of life. The leaders in our public schools, as well as in our local governments are destroying our community. Lets get out of Canton, we could support our own system, and our children could have a much better education, free from the new generic model. I saw it happen in Livonia when I was an elementary student, when they started closing neighborhood schools. Its destroyed entire neighborhoods, lifelong multi - generational relationships, and forced diversity, in which there is a downside, upon our children. I am 40 now, and its happening in our community. Its pretty simple to me, liberalism is a mental disorder. One police, One fire dept. and our own school system.
CMD December 01, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Paul, there are some things you just don't change, and Central Middle School is NOT one of them. You mention no need for busses??? have you been there recently? Kids in Canton as far away as Ford and Haggerty are bussed there. Kids are taking long bus rides to go to a school that is dirty, drab, and hot. The staff may be wonderful, but I know many also do not like their working conditions. I am not a liberal , but I think sending kids to place that distracts from learning is not a good idea. Having cockroaches in cafeteria and classrooms is not a good idea. Sweating and being miserable while trying to concentrate on a test is not a good idea. Stop being so poetic and nostalgic about this....be sensible. It is ugly inside and out and not a good learning environment.
Lowell Alum December 01, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Closing Central is long overdue. As others have pointed out, it is really old and in poor shape compared to the other buildings. This will also allow the middle school boundaries to be redrawn much more sensibly so more Canton Township kids can attend Discovery. I always disliked the fact that the vast majority of the district's population comes from Canton but 4 out of 5 middle schools are in Plymouth. One more thing - Central was recently given a "C" by the Michigan Department of Education, which is the lowest rating for any school in the district. Apparently it isn't as good as many of the commenters here would have us believe.
Lowell Alum December 01, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Annie, If Plymouth had its own district without Canton in it even more schools would have to be closed. Canton provides most of the student population. All of Discovery's kids, the vast majority of Pioneer's and East's kids, a good chunk of Central's kids, and even some of West's kids come from south of Joy Road. Of the 15 elementary schools in PCCS, 9 of them get their entire student populations south of Joy Road. Only two (Farrand and Bird) have their whole boundaries north of Joy Road. With the opening of Plymouth Scholars Academy it is my impression that a lot of Plymouth kids are increasingly going there rather than PCCS. Finally if Plymouth were its own district what would you do about high schoolers? All 3 high schools are in Canton Township.
P December 02, 2012 at 11:45 PM
AMEN
P December 02, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Oh sure, centrally located alright. My kid has to walk across at the signal of a busy street, down the road, across the railroad tracks, by lunatic speeding drivers to get to the dump. Close it. At least then he can catch a bus.
P December 02, 2012 at 11:51 PM
That's right. You said the word. IF IF IF IF IF...they would fix the place, you would let your kids go there, but not in it's current condition. So even you agree that it is not currently good enough for your own children. Yet you live soooo close to it. If you love the school soooo much, put in a request for your kids to go there. I am sure the board of education would grant the request.
Paul Schulz December 03, 2012 at 04:03 AM
I have a question, perhaps someone here could provide me the information. How many students within the Plymouth-Canton school district come from the Plymouth Community? How many in High School, Middle, and Elementary? Does anyone know those numbers? I would like to know....
Paul Schulz December 03, 2012 at 04:19 AM
@ P: You should complain to the School Board, why there isan't a crossing guard where you child crosses. That is unacceptable! P, thats a weak argument about Central, kids all over the community walk to school crossing streets where drivers speed. I suggest you talk with the Police department and inform them about issues of speeding in School zones, that you have witnessed. They will patrol it. In front of our offices there is a crosswalk for kids, with a crossing guard. Plymouth has also started program using real speed signs throughout the community. They are currently being rotated from location to location. I think they should be permanently installed where there are speeding issues. I watched them on our security cams, and when people see the blinking speed at which they are traveling, they immediately slow down. Maybe at the next City Commissions leadership should be reminded, for such a small investment, a dozen or so of those speed signs could be purchased and permanently installed for the safety of everyone. Has anyone noticed the new signs, actually they have been moving around for about 6 months.
dswan December 05, 2012 at 02:52 PM
How is it the district just last year recommended closing three elementary schools and is now asking for additions to the four remaining middle schools? Meanwhile, charter schools are siphoning more and more K-8 graders away from traditional schools. If Central needs to go, the district ought to consider changing the grade/building configuration before looking to add to their overhead amid a dwindling population of students. Let's see the district's Count Day results before we make a decision. It's unfortunate the technology and bus upgrades are tied to the middle school expansion; they would have a better chance of getting passed if presented separately.
DownUpside1 December 05, 2012 at 08:00 PM
@dswan - one of the recommended proposals last year did include the closure of a middle school. It was arguably the proposition that entailed the most change since it redistributed population across the board for grades 1-8. That was a bigger bite than the board was willing to chew last year so they quickly decided to only talk about the elementary schools. Unfortunately, instead of making the hard choices for the district as a whole, residents are forced to suffer through piece-meal attempts at restructuring based on population in or condition of a particular building.
dswan December 06, 2012 at 10:37 PM
The board really kicked the can down the road by only closing one elementary school. Had it committed to a macro level change, millions in operating expeses could have been saved, elementary schools feeding multiple middle schools could have been corrected, and future incremental changes could have been avoided. Instead, the board caved when the families affected by more closings made their case. The Observer reported that by 2017, it's expected that the district's middle school population will decrease by 600-900 from today's levels. If that's the case, there is no reason to expand the current middle schools or build a new one.
Jeosika December 06, 2012 at 10:57 PM
So for the next 5 years the children who attend Central are to continue with the status quo.......where is the school equity in that?
Paul Schulz December 07, 2012 at 12:57 AM
How many students who attend the Plymouth-Canton school district are from the Plymouth community. How many in High School, middle and elementary. The answers to those questions could be very helpful. With those numbers I could easily evaluate whether it would be more practical to break Plymouth off into its own small district. If the system is shrinking in enrollment, perhaps it would be beneficial to the students. Canton should have its own system, it once needed us, it no longer does. We could have an elite system of our own, with smaller class sizes, and nothing short of excellence.
Lowell Alum December 07, 2012 at 08:22 PM
I would like to know this data too but it is hard to find it. We can make rough estimates though. Since 9 out of 15 elementary schools have their entire attendence boundaries south of Joy Road and 4 others are partly south of Joy, I would guess that over 70% of the 18,000 kids in the district live in Canton Township or Superior Township. Less than 30% would be from the City of Plymouth, Plymouth Township, Northville Township, and Salem Township put together. In other words, if the areas north of Joy Road were its own district it would be smaller than Van Buren Public Schools, which is only large enough for one high school, one 7-8 middle school, one 5-6 upper elementary, and four K-4 elementaries.
Lowell Alum December 07, 2012 at 08:36 PM
You're right about delining student populations. The spring 2012 count showed 1,393 5th graders, 1,348 4th graders, 1,337 3rd graders, 1,273 2nd graders, 1,198 1st graders, and only 1,073 Kindergardeners. The elementary schools will see a large drop in the fall 2012 counts and the middle schools are only a few years away from experiencing the same. Looking at these numbers there is no reason to spend money to expand building size.
Darken December 10, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I have lived in Plymouth my entire life. Central was Plymouth HIGH SCHOOL long before it was rededicated as a middle school. This is WHY it has all those lovely amenities, like a football field, soccer fields, pool, etc. If you really are into the history of this town, try educating yourself on it's history.
dswan December 10, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Jeosika, If the district must close Central now; they have alternatives other than adding classrooms that will only be used for 5 years. Given that there's excess K-5 capacity; one option is to move 6th grade back to the elementary schools. The district ought to look at the demographic trends and come up with a long term plan.
TMNI January 13, 2013 at 12:35 AM
I couldn't be happier that they want to close Central. It was nasty 30 years ago when my husband when there. Now my daughter, a Kindergartener, would have to go there. The thought of her spending 8hrs a day 5 days a week for 3 years in that old moldy building makes me want to look into private schools (which with 3 kids wouldn't be easy). I'm sure there is plenty that can be done with the building it someone wants to pour the money into it but, it really is an eye sore. My husband and I are lifelong plymouth residents. I understand the need for historical buildings. The Penn is great! I love going to a movIe there but, I'm not required to spend 40+ hrs a week there either. There are MANY beautiful buildings in Plymouth worth fighting for, Central Middle School just isn't one of them.
Jackson Wilson III January 22, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Central is a great school.Period. If we can afford to add on to other schools, take that money, put in individual heating and cooling units in each room.presto, magico, DONE. Dealing with the heat was minimal,only a few days a year....NEVER heard ANY complaints about it being cold there.NEVER...Teachers and staff, and PTO there was pretty darn good.
Quack Quack March 18, 2013 at 04:08 AM
I am currently at Central and I wouldn't have it any other way! Shout out to Mrs. Taylor and Mrs. VanderWal in the library for being freakin amazing! Mr. Ballard, Mr. Dinan, Ms. Eagles and Ms. Medley are the BEST coaches ever. Mr. Ruela and Mr. Hunter have the administration right. Coach LaPointe is the ultimate P.E. teacher. Huge shout out to Ms. Smith, Mr. Helmes, Mr. Calzone and Mr. Jadallah for doing bus duty EVERY day. NJHS would not exist without Mrs. Stephens, Mrs. Stop, Mrs. Mollick, Ms. Wells and Mrs. Boyd. Our morning announcements are hilarious on staff members birthdays thanks to Mr. Boyd. Plus 7th hour, WEB leaders and so many more clubs. PCCS world not be PCCS without central
Quack Quack March 20, 2013 at 06:34 PM
derp Mrs. Anderson is on NJHS as well sorry Mrs. A

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