Saline School Board Approves Bond Project Work, Addresses Sports Dome and Balanced Calendar

 05/13/2016 - 12:12
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Superintendent Scot Graden speaks during the Saline Area Schools Board of Education meeting.

The Saline Area Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a long list of bond-project expenditures from the district’s second bid package at its meeting Tuesday night, continuing the process of improving and modernizing its set of aging buildings with millions of dollars’ worth of upgrades.

Among the approved items were:

  • HVAC and plumbing from Adrian Mechanical Services for $1,974,450
  • Earthwork and site utilities from Eagle Excavation for $1,202,000
  • Asphalt paving from Cadillac Asphalt for $675,000
  • Site and interior flatwork concrete from Angelo Iafrate Construction for $252,509
  • Electrical work at the high school, middle school and Harvest from Tri-County Electric for $982,622
  • Electrical work at Pleasant Ridge, Woodland Meadows and Heritage from Huron Valley Electric $1,358,000

“What we’re bringing to the board totals just under $6.5 million, and once these are approved Clark will be able to finalize the contracts and begin the process of scheduling the work for this summer, Assistant Superintendent Janice Warner said just prior to the affirmative vote.

Ford Transit Purchase

The board also unanimously approved the purchase of a used 2015 Ford Transit from Briarwood Ford. Warner said the Ford van best fit all of the district’s criteria and that it will be paid for via a three-year installment plan through Bank of Ann Arbor.

“We’ve had a couple of vans, called Hornet Vans, over the years to transport small groups of students like the golf team,” she said, indicating the old vans had become unsafe for their original purpose. “So we sold one of the vans and then actually the other van is being used by the buildings and grounds department around campus.”

Warner said the previous vans were from around 2001, and Superintendent Scot Graden said eight to 10 years is usually a more appropriate replacement window.

After the bidding and vetting process, Warner said the Ford was decided to be best. It has approximately 18,000 miles on the odometer. The final sale price was not mentioned, but Warner said the financing came at a 2.54 percent interest rate.

Committee to Study Balanced Calendar

After devoting a significant chunk of time at their previous meeting discussing the potential for a balanced calendar, or a year-round school schedule, board members and administrators spent only a few minutes on the topic Tuesday, but Board President Paul Hynek did offer a more concrete time frame concerning the next course of action.

He said the district hopes to form a committee to explore the idea by December, and have members commence work in January. The ultimate goal, according to Hynek, would be to have either an affirmative or negative answer by June of 2017.

At a previous meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Steve Laatsch said that if the district were to adopt a balanced calendar, implementation of the changes would then be at least one year off from the decision date, potentially impacting the 2018 to 2019 school year.

Substitute Teacher Pay

During public comment, substitute teacher Tom Chulig took issue with Saline schools continuing to pay subs $75-per-day, while other area districts have increased their daily wages. Many districts cut substitute teacher pay as a cost savings measure during the economic recession.

Chulig said Ann Arbor substitute pay is back up to $100-per-day, while the Dexter and Chelsea districts are up to $90-per-day.

The $75-per-day wage in Saline schools, said Chulig, equates to less than $11-per-hour.

“As a substitute teacher making $10.70-an-hour, I am taking home about $9.04 after standard tax deductions,” he said, suggesting this is on par with rates for local baby sitters. “Raising substitute teachers wages back to where they were ten years ago, $100-a-day, will come out to $14.30-an-hour, and after taxes $12.30.”

Chulig brought up the significant daily requirements of the job, as well as out-of-pocket expenses such as the $65 fingerprinting and criminal background check and $45 for an annual substitute teacher permit from the state.

Athletic Dome Update

The board also once again briefly addressed the possibility of a seasonal athletic dome.

Graden said he and district officials have discussed finding investors locally to front the cost of the project, as well as vetting third party management companies that could potentially run the facility. No official action is planned at this point, though Graden said the deadline is approaching quickly if any plan is to formalize for the 2016-2017 school year.

The next regular board or education meeting will be held at the usual time of 6:30 p.m., but will take place in the Heritage Elementary School Media Center, rather than at Liberty School.