Crews work inside the Schofield Early Childhood Center.

Crews work inside the Schofield Early Childhood Center.

Photo provided by Fitzgerald Public Schools

Bond projects continue in Fitzgerald

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published July 17, 2020


WARREN — Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, crews are still working on bond projects in Fitzgerald Public Schools.

One year ago in May, a $46.7 million bond issue passed in the district, which in turn, generated tax dollars from Fitzgerald residents to fund a number of updates.

A bond issue is a state-approved funding process for a group of planned projects. When voters approve a bond proposal, the school district sells bonds in the authorized amount and uses the sale proceeds to pay for those projects. The Fitzgerald bond is for 25 years.

The Fitzgerald bond issue is designed to enhance safety and security by remodeling and equipping school buildings, playgrounds and other facilities. Projects include improving energy efficiency with roofing, lighting and mechanical system replacements; updating and remodeling classrooms and school facilities; upgrading the technology infrastructure; and improving deteriorated masonry and parking lots.

According to district officials, the proposed projects include work at the Schofield Early Childhood Center, Mound Park Upper Elementary, Westview Lower Elementary, Chatterton Middle School, Fitzgerald High School, the Fitzgerald Automotive & Technical Career Institute building, the Neigebaur building and the transportation building.

“Many of the projects that are paid for by the bond will increase student and staff safety throughout our school buildings,” district Director of Operations Bill Rudd stated in an email. “We want to ensure that we are continuing to provide the best education to our students and can serve our community through our various programs that are run throughout our district and buildings. Maintaining our facilities and upgrading safety features has been a focus with this series of bond improvements so that we can continue to provide the top-notch services that we do for our students, staff and community.”

PARTNERS in Architecture, PLC, in Mount Clemens, is the architect. The construction manager for the bond is Clark Construction Company, which is headquartered in Lansing.

To date, the completed bond projects include updates to the Chatterton Middle School planetarium. It was upgraded from the original analog equipment to a new digital projector, along with new room lighting and sound system.

In addition, new computer workstations have been installed in every classroom and computer labs throughout the district. Also, four new school buses were purchased with bond dollars. New analog clocks will be installed at the elementary pre-K through 5 buildings and digital clocks at Chatterton and Fitzgerald High School.

Several other projects are being worked on this summer, including the installation of new fire alarms and new public address systems in each building, along with new marquees with digital message boards to be installed at each school. New scoreboards for Chatterton and the high school were recently delivered to the district for installation.

A lot of exterior work is occurring at Mound Park. For starters, brickwork and new metal panels above the windows will be installed, along with a total roof replacement. On the inside of Mound Park, the main office is undergoing a remodeling process that will include security enhancements. Heating and cooling system improvements at Mound Park also are part of the plan.

As part of the bond projects, crews are working on site improvements at Mound Park and Schofield, including landscaping. New playground equipment also is scheduled for Schofield, Westview and Mound Park. Over at Schofield, workers are handling boiler replacement and heating control improvement tasks this summer. Bathroom renovations also continue at Westview. Additional access control will be installed at each building to enhance security.

“We are adding additional swipe card readers at selected doors to allow for secure access by staff,” Rudd said.

Even with COVID-19, Rudd said there have been no changes in the planned scope of work for this summer.

“Face masks are required by all staff and contractors while working inside of any of buildings and outside when social distancing is not possible,” Rudd said. “Everyone entering any building or work site is required to complete a COVID-19 health survey daily.”