The tennis courts at Royal Oak High School will move farther back and expand from six to eight courts as part of a bond project approved by voters in November.

The tennis courts at Royal Oak High School will move farther back and expand from six to eight courts as part of a bond project approved by voters in November.

Photo provided by Sarah Hunton


Bond work underway at Royal Oak High School

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published May 1, 2018

 Crews work on a  foundation for the new athletic plaza going in at Royal Oak High School as part of a bond project approved by voters in November.

Crews work on a foundation for the new athletic plaza going in at Royal Oak High School as part of a bond project approved by voters in November.

Photo provided by Sarah Hunton

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ROYAL OAK — Royal Oak Schools recently broke ground on a new athletic plaza at Royal Oak High School as part of a five-year, $59.9 million bond project that will ultimately touch all schools in the district.

Voters approved the bond 72.26 percent to 27.74 percent in the Nov. 7, 2017, election.

Kathy Abela, executive director of finance and operations for Royal Oak Schools, said that officials conducted a two-year study to identify instructional and major infrastructure needs in the district.

“We do have a sinking fund in Royal Oak, which is a great thing for the district. It’s 1 mill, or $2.4 million a year, so we get money for things like roofs and heating and cooling,” she said. “We looked at the study in order to bring our buildings back into good condition, and for things that need to be done with a solid amount of money.”

The athletic plaza will include a new concession building with a ticket booth, locker rooms for the home team and visitors, and bathrooms. Bond work also will include improved drainage and stormwater management in the fields, and path connections between different athletic fields.

Other bond-funded improvements to the high school’s athletic area will include upgrading the track from six to eight lanes in order to better facilitate track meets, and revamping its tennis courts.

“We are in desperate need of new tennis courts,” Abela said. “We had six courts. We are going to update it to eight so we can run tournaments. Those needed to be replaced. We’re moving them back with the rest of the athletics.”

She said that construction will continue through the summer, with the opening of the athletic plaza scheduled for fall.

“It’ll be a nice welcome into that athletic area and plaza now, instead of just entering the football field,” Abela said. “A grand opening will probably take place at a home football game.”

Beginning in 2019, she said, a two-year project will focus on the inside of the high school.

“We’re getting a brand-new cafeteria and food service area,” she said.

The addition will allow for two lunch periods instead of three, and will provide a central gathering space, which can also be used as an extended learning area. The high school also will get renovated art, science and music classrooms.

In 2019, the bond will also revamp Keller Elementary School’s main office area — relocating it to the back of the school — and add a brand-new parking lot, which Abela said would make drop-off, pickup and accessing the main office much easier for students and parents.

The bond includes additional classroom work at all of the district’s elementary schools and at the middle school.

All buildings will receive structural improvements, such as new doors and locks, updated HVAC systems, new roofing and new flooring.

Technical improvements districtwide include updated audio and visual equipment, updated security and phone systems, and updated wireless network and access control systems.

This year, the district sold the first $26.9 million in bonds; the second series of approximately $33 million in bonds will be sold in May 2020 to facilitate improvements through 2022.

The bond does not increase the district’s current millage rate of 3.25 mills.

“I think it’s an investment in students and families and great for the Royal Oak community,” said Mary Beth Fitzpatrick, superintendent of Royal Oak Schools. “We’re just very excited. It’s going to bring a renewed interest and vibrancy in our school district.”

For more information, visit www.royaloakschools.org/district/bond-information.

 

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