Open Letter to Fruitport Community regarding FCS Bond Proposal

Fruitport Community Schools and the Facilities Committee is requesting a bond proposal to do a major renovation to the current High School and minor renovations to all other school buildings based on their study of our current facility needs.  They have made these determinations based on “community sentiment.”  Their objective was to develop a plan that would: 1.  Keep the high school on the main campus, 2.  Be fiscally responsible, 3.  Build a larger auditorium, 4.  Maintain safety and security, and 5.  Improve traffic flow to buildings.

FCS has been operating at a deficit since 2009.  This fact is never mentioned in the Committees Assessment or in the supporting campaign.  The number one priority of the Master Plan should have been how to eliminate the continuous operating budget deficit.  The current Master Plan reached by the administration and Facilities Committee does absolutely nothing to deal with this deficit.  With state money and the economy always in flux, the district needs to be proactive in dealing with future budgets.  A legitimate Master Plan would address how to use new construction, renovations, and consolidation of services to eliminate the budget shortfall.  The current plan essentially demolishes and rebuilds every building in the district over the next FIFTY years.  It would spend multi-millions of dollars and leave us with the same number of buildings on the same number of campuses, requiring the same amount of administrators, teachers, maintenance staff, bus drivers, and needing the same amount of building maintenance, landscaping, and parking lot maintenance.  I don’t know of any other district whose plan is to demolish and rebuild every building in their district.  It doesn’t sound fiscally responsible to me.

I have devised a Master Plan Alternative that would save the tax payers of Fruitport millions of dollars in construction and eliminate the deficit in a more fiscally responsible manner.  While I agree that our facilities are inferior to those of neighboring districts, I feel that prospective residents look at test scores more than facilities to determine a school district to send their children.  If we can consolidate our district down to one campus/three buildings with one bond proposal, we can cut unnecessary spending so that money can be spent more directly on education and hopefully raise the test scores to the level of our neighboring districts.  This would attract more residents and increase the tax base so that we can more easily afford to build newer facilities in the future.  There are many proposed housing developments that have recently been announced and of course the proposed casino that could provide a major boost to the tax base in the FUTURE.  Unfortunately they have not been built so it is too soon to build a shiny new toy like the high school.

My plan is to build an addition onto the back of the Middle School to relocate all 3rd5th grades and move all preK-2nd grades to Edgewood.  This would close Beach and Shettler so that no more money would need to be spent on those aging buildings.  It would also bring all grades to the main campus and give the school district more staffing flexibility for each grade.  This step alone should eliminate the spending deficit.  The high school would get an arts wing featuring a new auditorium and classrooms to give our district an appropriate sized theater and allow us to eliminate the costly portable classrooms located by the high school.

In 2028, when the current bonds expire, we could move on to Phase Two of my Master Plan.  By then most of the housing developments should be built and hopefully more commercial development such as the casino will be in operation.  Phase Two consists of building the rest of the new High School.  This includes a new public Library, community fitness center, gymnasiums, kitchen/commons area and remaining classrooms.  The 9-12th grades would move into the new High School, the 6-8th grades would move into the old portion of the High School which becomes Fruitport Middle School.  All other grades would move into the Middle School which would become Fruitport Elementary School.  Then Edgewood and the FCS/Adult Ed building would be demolished to make room for a large parking lot for the new High School.

As you can see, there is no need to take fifty years to implement a fiscally responsible Master Plan.  If you would like to read the details of my plan, including diagrams, please go to my Facebook page:

Thank you for your attention,
Concerned Tax Payer
Mike McCallum