WBS moves ahead with reconfiguration process

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published April 30, 2013

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Elementary students can expect to find more traffic signals at their schools after the West Bloomfield School District Board of Education’s recent approval of traffic signal installation and maintenance.

On April 22, the school board voted 7-0 to approve a bid recommendation for the installation of the traffic signal on Walnut Lake Road and Doherty Elementary School Driveway with George W. Auch Co. With that approval, the Oakland County Road Commission requires the board to adopt a resolution, which states that the school district will pay 100 percent of the installation cost and a percentage of the ongoing traffic signal maintenance.

Elementary School Reconfiguration work at Doherty Elementary School will cost $81,943; work at Scotch Elementary School will cost  $8,138; and Sheiko Elementary School costs are in the amount of $21,569 — totaling $111,650.

Thomas Goulding, deputy superintendent for business and operations, said during the meeting that the money will come out of the district’s 2011 capital projects funds from bond money.

Trustee Carol Finkelstein said during the meeting that she felt “uncomfortable” spending money on a stop light when the board doesn’t know if they will have a building and site sinking fund. On May 7, voters in the WBSD will be asked to vote on a 1.25-mill sinking fund. The millage would provide about $2 million annually for the next 14 years for building and school site repairs.

“This is money I think would be very dangerous for us to be spending when we could just hold off for a few weeks,” she said, “and if that delays the installation of a stop light for a few months, I’m sorry.”

Trustee David Einstandig said that, although directing funds toward the right projects is important, standing firm on one’s decision is also necessary.

“I get it that every penny counts,” he said during the meeting. “I think it is a balance between, is there an expectation created? Is there a need for a traffic signal? Would hindsight prove differently? I think that is what is being asked of you to make a determination today.”

The board’s decision comes during a transitional phase: Ealy Elementary School will close June 12, 2013.

“Right now, we are in the phase where we have parent groups meeting with principals and planning transitional actives when students will tour their buildings,” Robert Martin, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, told the Beacon recently.

During a Sept. 24, 2012, Board of Education meeting, trustees voted 6-1 to close Ealy, a move that could save about $685,000 annually, including future maintenance costs; Finkelstein cast the sole dissenting vote.

Ealy Principal Rod MacNeal said he supports the district’s reconfiguration plans.

“We can look forward to delivering services in a more efficient and effective manner,” he said in a recent emailed statement.

“I believe the district has taken this opportunity to also improve the way that we educate our student population,” he said. “I’m excited about the prospect of being able to concentrate on the specific needs of students within this new configuration.

“The next steps include more vigorous planning, team building and helping the faculty mesh together.”

Find out more about the West Bloomfield School District at www.wbsd.org or by calling (248) 865-6420.