Local school district forced to regroup after bond proposal fails
By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
BURTON, MI (WNEM) -
An aging football stadium. A boiler on its last legs. These are two critical issues Burton-Bentley desperately needs to tackle but can't, because voters rejected a recent bond proposal by just 16 votes.
"We're limping by, but we're only going to be able to do that for so long," said school board member Vince Bontumasi.
The district asked voters to OK a three mil increase to help raise nearly $5.3 million to make the needed repairs. Its failure is forcing district leaders to go back to the drawing board.
"By not passing, I don't know what we're going to do now. Of course, the boilers are a big issue, our sports complex is a very big issue, and they're falling apart," said board member Toby Bauldry.
The Bentley football stadium is in such bad shape it's not clear if it's safe enough to host games.
"Most of our games, our bleachers are full. And we can't have a home football game. That's really hard," said football parent Tina Pilarski.
The boilers are also in bad shape. While some classrooms feel like they're 100 degrees, others are so cold kids are forced to wear coats.
"It just needs to get up to date. It's just old," said parent Robert Gooch.
"Come next winter, go to fire that thing back up, who knows what's going to happen," said Bontumasi.
District officials told TV5 their plan now is to go back to the voters in hopes of essentially saving the district.
"We didn't lose by many, 16 votes isn't very many, and I think we need to go out. We owe it to our kids to go out and go for it again," said Bauldry.
Board members TV5 spoke with on Monday night hope to have the question on August or November's ballot. They also said they want to work with community members to learn about the issues some of them might have as they try to get a bond proposal passed.
District leaders said they believe a public safety millage that passed last year in Burton might have prevented this proposal from passing.
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