Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, left, speaks Sept. 26 at Chippewa Valley High School while Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts looks on. The pair, and other speakers, discussed the upcoming Nov. 6 school district proposal.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, left, speaks Sept. 26 at Chippewa Valley High School while Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts looks on. The pair, and other speakers, discussed the upcoming Nov. 6 school district proposal.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Chippewa introduces ‘Safe Schools, Strong Schools’ proposal

Superintendent: ‘There’s always been a sense of urgency’

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published October 2, 2018

 District officials listen to the various presentations.

District officials listen to the various presentations.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

CLINTON TOWNSHIP/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — On Sept. 26, Chippewa Valley Schools introduced its “Safe Schools, Strong Schools” Nov. 6 ballot proposal, aimed to restructure safety mechanisms and technology; improve infrastructure; and develop and improve school buildings, programming, athletic fields and buses.

According to district officials, the proposal would not raise taxes, but would instead extend the duration of the current bond repayment millage.

Security enhancements would include updated security cameras, the replacement of door locks, improved interior door systems and more secure entryways. The oldest buses currently utilized within the fleet would be replaced, as would roofing, plumbing and mechanical systems.

In addition to safety, a more introspective focus would continue and increase in the area of career and technical education programs, providing students with state-of-the-art technology.

According to proposal language, the maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding, exclusive of refunding, is no more than 25 years and would cost nothing throughout the initial year if successful. The estimated simple average annual millage that would be required to retire the bonds would be 1.53 mills annually, or $1.53 per $1,000 of taxable value.

According to CVS spokesperson Diane Blain, the proposal would allow the district to “fund necessary improvements without raising taxes by extending the duration of our current bond repayment millage.”

The annual debt millage required to retire all district bonds currently outstanding and proposed pursuant to this proposal is expected to remain at or below the current annual debt millage of 8.64 mills.

Superintendent Ron Roberts said the district conducted an independent analysis last April, investigating all buildings and discussing concerns with students and parents.

Roberts said district students aren’t necessarily “paralyzed in fear.” However, the commonality of school-related threats and violence is still in the back of many of their minds. 

“It resonates with (students and parents),” he said. “It’s important, and it only makes sense in the world in which we live that they would consider this important. … I always think there’s been a sense of urgency.”

Other facets of the proposal include the replacement of parking lot paving, broken sidewalks, sections of flooring and lighting in certain areas. Additional access doors and the installation of an emergency alert system are also being addressed.

Chippewa Valley Schools Board of Education President Beth Pyden said the district must continue to adapt to school safety demands that occur before and after the school bell rings, saying it’s not just a school district, but “a community.”

Parent Michele Majewski, who has one sophomore and one senior at CVHS, called it “reassuring” that the district is looking to the future and making the community a safe place to learn, work and raise a family.

Roberts said studies show that student learning can be negatively impacted by environments dramatically changing, like installing metal detectors, for example. He said schools are not like sports stadiums, with students constantly funneling in and out through different classrooms and the like.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said metal detectors in Dakota High School, for example, would be difficult to enforce due to the sheer size of the building. He said law enforcement already works closely with school administrators as is, and school liaison officers exist throughout the district.

“Shaking everybody down — do you really want to send your kids to a jail or prison, which is a bunch of brick walls and only one way in and one way out, and everybody gets searched on their way in and on their way out?” Wickersham said.

Roberts also discussed the future of tomorrow, occurring in classrooms today all over the country. The ability for students to learn, grow and evolve in a technological age — where they can take career and technical education courses while still immersing themselves in AP-level courses — offers more opportunity down the line, no matter if students enter a two- or four-year college, or the trade industry.

“Sometimes, we are portrayed by snapshots,” Roberts said. “And what the public doesn’t see is the dedication and commitment of staff to create programs that are really meaningful to kids. … I always say that kids have one opportunity to finish their education. Their time is now. We need to provide for them the kinds of experiences which will enrich their future, because their enriched future enriches all of us.”

The district will host informational meetings on the bond proposal Oct. 4, 8, 16 and 18, at Chippewa Valley High School, Wyandot Elementary School, Dakota High School and Algonquin Middle School, respectively. For school information, visit www.chippewavalleyschools.org. All meetings begin at 7 p.m.