Archive for Thursday, February 24, 2005

Board, council discuss building uses

February 24, 2005

There are dozens of potential uses for the Lansing Elementary and Intermediate school buildings if voters approve a referendum in April to construct a new building to house all of the district's K-5 students under one roof.

But, Lansing school district officials told Lansing city officials during a joint meeting last week, any final decision on those uses will have to wait until after the bond election.

"It's difficult to come up with definitive answers when you can't get into lease agreements or negotiations," Schools Superintendent Randal Bagby explained to members of the Lansing City Council during Thursday's joint study session between the council and the Lansing School Board.

The two boards discussed issues related to the $23.6 million school bond referendum that will be put before voters on April 5. Among them was what would become of current buildings.

Bagby passed out a draft list of potential uses that included an expansion of Lansing High School into the Intermediate School building, creation of a central warehouse in the Sallie Zoll building and moving the district's administrative offices into the existing Elementary School.

"This is just a brainstorming list that gets everyone a place to start talking," Bagby explained.

Council member Harland Russell said he thought there needed to be some sort of "conceptual commitment" on the part of the board prior to the bond election. Council member Robert Ulin noted the council has codified its priorities for spending the city's share of receipts if voters renew the 1 percent countywide sales tax, which voters also will be deciding on April 5.

Board members at the study session, however, held their ground to wait until after the election to develop a commitment on any potential uses for the buildings.

"If in fact this (bond issue) passes, we are going to have a really good, hard, long look at these 30 uses and then pick the 10 that are going to work," said board member Brian Bode.

Bagby said deciding on a firm use for the buildings now would be futile were voters to reject the bond issue.

"If we did all of this and come April 5 it didn't pass, that would be a lot of time and energy wasted," he noted.

School Board President Shelly Gowdy assured the council that when a decision was made, the board would seek community input.

"I think all the board members have expressed that we want to : bring all the stakeholders to the table," she said. "If the bond passes, we would like to have community meetings about what uses the community would like to see in these buildings."

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