Bond Issue Bottom Line

MPS bond issue joins the ballot in May, what to expect for MN

Delano Lockhart, Copy Editor

Failed heating systems, rusted exterior walls, outdated lighting, safety and security issues are all realities facing Millard Public Schools as they enter the new decade.

A $125 million bond was proposed to the Board of Education on Feb. 11, 2019 and was authorized unanimously on Jan. 20, 2020. The public will vote on this bond issue during the primary election on May 12, 2020, and projects are set to begin in the summer of 2021 and last five years. 

“We’ve had a bond issue really about every five to seven years throughout the history of our school. We’re at the end of our last bond issue and so it’s time to go for another one,” MPS Superintendent Jim Sutfin said.

The average life of an MPS school is 38 years, with some schools exceeding that age. Central Middle School, built in 1960, is the oldest school building in the Millard district. 

Last winter, Central Middle School was impacted by improper heating due to an out-of-date heating system. 

“Parts of the building are boiling and other parts are freezing, because they can’t distribute heat evenly anymore. So in December, there are parts of the building where they are opening windows to let the heat out and the cool air in,” MPS Chief Financial Officer Chad Meisgeier said. 

According to the district, these are important projects that need to be done to ensure that students can focus on their school work. However, when the money is not available, things such as heating are not able to be fixed and can jeopardize the positive learning environment.

Sutfin explained that there are multiple heating and cooling systems in each school and as they age they begin to fail; When these systems need to be replaced, it costs around $400,000 for each system.

“We will have to take money, and the only place to take it from is programs, because when the air conditioner breaks you [need] to fix it… If the air conditioning goes out at Millard North you have to do it, and if you don’t have the money to do that you have to find it from other places,” Sutfin said.

Most MPS buildings have felt the effects of old systems due to improper funding. The bond will be used to completely renovate Central Middle School and Cody Elementary School, update security systems in the other high schools, and enhance energy efficiency throughout multiple schools, including MN. 

Although MN recently received a major renovation to the front entrance, which was a significant portion of the last bond issue, the school will still receive more renovations from that bond issue beginning this summer. 

“Millard North received a huge portion of the last bond issue for that remodel, but what a lot of people don’t know is Millard North is getting a ton of it again this summer. There is a parking lot that is going to be redone and there are a couple of other projects that are going to be done,” Sutfin said. 

MN receives funding for each bond issue. These bonds have improved everything from offices to the new vestibule and security. Now, the focus is on energy efficiency, which will save money for the school in the long run. The school will receive new light bulbs to save costs on electricity down the line.
The Board of Education is focused on ensuring that all schools get renovations done that are most important for them, and that they are done in a timely manner.  

“We look at things like how important it is to fix [something] right now, and we also look at how long it has been on the list because we’ve been making people wait a long time. At some point, even if it’s not the highest priority, it needs to be done,” Meisgeier said. 

The Board of Education wants everyone to know that this bond issue impacts everyone at every school and that it is a community effort. 

“This is about Millard North and all of the other Millard Public Schools. Millard North is going to get significant money in this bond issue too, but it’s about the Millard community,” Sutfin said. “If we don’t stay together as one community and work on maintaining and updating our facilities then we won’t have the infrastructure to continue that great education our kids get.”