Washtenaw passes $53 million proposal for new special-needs school

Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - 10:54pm

Voters of Washtenaw County passed three new ballot proposals on Tuesday.

Voters of Washtenaw County passed three new ballot proposals on Tuesday. Buy this photo
Miles Macklin/Daily

On Tuesday, Washtenaw County voters passed three new ballot proposals including a $53-million bid for a new special-needs school in the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

The motion included a 0.37-million tax increase, (about $55.50 annually for the owner of a $300,000 home) allowing for the renovation of High Point School’s established gymnasium and pool to make it more accessible. In addition, the bond provides funding for the demolition of one of the spare parts of the building no longer being used. 

Officials say this destruction would create room for the installation of 30-35 new classrooms, art and music halls, and rooms dedicated to occupational and physical therapy, speech pathology, and other special needs workers. Included in the bond is the addition of new equipment and furniture, a revamped infrastructure and more technological advancements. 

High Point’s classrooms would also be equipped with individual bathrooms, more windows, and would span over 1,000 square feet.

Originally built in 1975 to give special-ed students vocational skills pertaining to kitchen work, maintenance jobs, laundry and other service-oriented careers, High Point has transformed into a more inclusionary institution for those 3 to 26 years old with multiple disabilities both mild and severe.

Out of the 1,259 voters from each of the 110 precincts about 651 residents — 51.7 percent — voted to pass the bill.

In addition to the school’s bond proposal, 66 percent of voters approved the renewal of Chelsea District’s Library millage.

The millage funds about 90 percent of operations, financing internet access, the development of new programs, staffing and other essential functions that keep the library open.

Under the renewal, taxes will remain the same with residents paying an average of $194 annually.

The final proposal, a new millage to improve recreation facilities in Whitmore Lake, was passed with 51.7 percent voters polling “yes.”

The new millage allows for the maintenance of the district’s pool, commissioning for the purchase of a pool cover, ultimately reducing pool costs. In addition, the millage will provide all in-district residents the option for free open swims. 

Until 2028, a price increase of about $25 annually for those with a home valued at $150,000 will be applied. 

In addition to the district pool, the increased price would enhance the track and remodel buildings and basketball courts at the Jennings Athletic Complex Football Field and Whitmore Lake Elementary.