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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Difficulty Waiting?

For people who vigorously celebrate holidays that take place throughout the year, they decorate with red and green for Christmas, fireworks and glittery signs for New Year’s, red hearts for Valentine’s, and green shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day. As the day of celebration draws near, some of us find it very difficult to wait. Many of us do not like to wait for anything. Although we have heard many times that waiting will help our patience grow, it is still difficult to wait.

After months of waiting, Columbia School District had our bond sale last week. Leading up to the bond sale our credit rating was reevaluated and increased as a result of the positive increase in our financial status and property values in the district. To fund projects associated with Proposal 1, bonds were sold in the amount of $25,924,184. This amount will fund projects aimed at remodeling, equipping and reequipping all of the Columbia School District buildings. It will also fund the acquisition and installation of instructional technology and instructional technology equipment. In addition it will fund the improvement and remodeling of playgrounds, pick-up and drop-off areas and the addition of a secure vestibule office area at the elementary school.

To fund projects associated with Proposal 2, bonds were sold in the amount of $3,950,816 for the purpose of partially remodeling, furnishing and refurnishing, and equipping and re-equipping school buildings; erecting, furnishing and equipping an addition to the high school building; acquiring and installing instructional technology and instructional technology equipment for school buildings; developing and improving a site and paying the remaining portion of the costs of issuing the Bonds.

Similar to the way it is challenging for us to wait for our favorite holiday, it has been difficult to wait for the sale of the bonds. The sale marks the beginning of positive change for the facilities of Columbia School District. Our design steering committees will begin meeting to discuss the remodeling of the academic areas of the buildings, concerns regarding heating and cooling and design of the new locker rooms at Columbia Central High School. If you have a specific interest in any of the areas, please email me at pam.campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 5175926641 to volunteer. The upgrades in our buildings will benefit our students and staff members and will make way for many positive academic impacts in their learning environments.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine's Day Collages

I walked into the room, paying close attention to the projects that the children were completing. Spread out around the children were strips of pink, red and white paper with covered with countless words. On the various strips of paper the children had written words like Love, Mom, Dad, Fun, and Happiness. As they continued with their task, the children glued the strips onto a paper which contained the outline of a heart. When they were finished they had pretty Valentine’s Day collages to present to their parents.

My mind couldn’t help but turn back the time and think of what type of words my children would have written on the strips of paper. This year I didn’t have small children to make heart shaped crafts for me for Valentine’s Day. Things change, people age and so do our surroundings.

As we are all acutely aware, the Columbia School District facilities have aged over time. The Facilities Improvement Team spent last winter, spring and summer analyzing and reanalyzing areas of the school buildings which had aged and needed to be remodeled or replaced. The overview of the areas were plainly revealed in our statement of request to improve the schools to make them safe, warm, dry and smart for our students. Details of the projects were contained in our analysis of the buildings and our formal request to the Michigan State Department of Treasury.

Our projects included remodeling, equipping, and reequipping all four school buildings. The analysis focused on providing elements which would enhance the safety of our students, staff, parents and community members. The safety elements included secure entry vestibules, enhanced and redesigned parking and drop off areas, and redesigned security camera system. Other safety elements included equipping the buildings with some updated furnishings, lockers and outdoor areas.

No one can disagree with two of the top priorities: remodeling our heating systems and replacing the roofs on all buildings: The warm and dry portion of our bond issue. As we continue on in the planning process we are working on reviewing all of the items which were analyzed during the past year. We are currently in the process of planning for initial site work and roofing which is included in Phase 1. These projects will be included in initial bid packages which will go out to area contractors in March. Later this year, we will begin diligently reviewing needs within the buildings including heating systems, furnishings and technology. If you have any questions, or hear something you may question, please don’t hesitate to email me at pam.campbell@myeagles.org or call at 5175926641. Just like the children who presented their parents with their very best effort, your Columbia School District team of board members, administrators, teachers and steering committee members want to present the community members with a finished product that is a functional, excellent learning environment for our students.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bond Project Update

Sparkling like diamonds in the sunshine, the fresh snow looked beautiful. As the weeks have gone on, the snow has continued to pile up. It has been an interesting winter with snow, rain, bone-chilling wind chills and some sunshine. This winter has been different from the last few winters: The snowmobilers have had an opportunity to zip across the pristine powdery white snow in the morning, leaving their tracks as a testament to their fun, various community “tip-up” festivals and ice fishing contests have seen better conditions than in the past few years, and the Columbia School Board, teachers and administrators have been diligently working on the beginning planning for our building improvements and remodeling.

Phase I includes the areas of the district that require the shortest length of time for our groups to work through the planning segment. Currently we are looking at outdoor components which were included in the bond issue. First and foremost, Phase I contains the complete replacement of all of the school roofs. The Phase I elements include the rerouting and paving of the new bus loops and drop-off areas at the Brooklyn campus of Columbia Middle and Elementary Schools, along with increasing the safety of the bus drop-off at Columbia Central High School. Also included in Phase I projects will be an increased focus on safety for the students and parents during drop-off and pick-up times. Phase I will also include upgrades to the track and field events areas, parking lots, middle school site work, and tennis courts. During Phase I we will also begin rewiring for our computer net works.

Phase II includes the balance of the projects: Completion of technology wiring and installation of wireless hubs, purchase of additional computer hardware, installation of new heating systems, remodeling of classrooms, remodeling of offices to include secure entry vestibules, addition of a secure entry at the elementary which will include a new office area, addition of locker room area at CCHS for seventh and eighth grade students.

Funds for the projects will come from the sale of our bonds. In a couple weeks the district will sell our bonds on the municipal market. With the assistance of two companies: Stiefel Nicholas and Raymond James. Community members with an interest in purchasing some of our tax free bonds will have an opportunity to do so by working with either of these two companies. Bonds will be sold in differing amounts for various lengths of time.

Just like the fresh snow sparkles in the sunshine, our remodeled schools will not only look better, but the technology will be greatly improved and the buildings will provide safer, warmer, and drier educational learning areas for our students and teachers. If you are interested in participating in a focus group to help plan various aspects of our remodeling projects, please call me at 5175926641 or email me at pam.campbell@myeagles.org.