Karen Powerski, a parapro, uses a secure entrance at Graebner Elementary School in Sterling Heights for teachers, visitors and parents, which leads to the office.

Karen Powerski, a parapro, uses a secure entrance at Graebner Elementary School in Sterling Heights for teachers, visitors and parents, which leads to the office.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Improvements being made to UCS schools using bond money

By: Kara Szymanski | C&G Newspapers | Published November 9, 2020


SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA/STERLING HEIGHTS — Utica Community Schools will look a little different to students this year when they return to their classrooms sometime after Thanksgiving break, thanks to nearly $40 million in bond-funded renovations.

The projects were set into motion by a $155 million bond issue approved by voters in November 2018.

The $38.3 million in bond-funded projects completed over this past summer included new secure entryways at 11 schools in the district. The secure entryways require visitors to go through another set of doors and directly into the main office once they are given access to the building by the office staff.

Currently, all UCS school entrances are locked, and visitors must present a photo identification to office staff before being admitted into a secure entryway that leads directly into the school’s office area.

There were also infrastructure improvements as identified in the district’s long-range improvement program, including parking lots, roofs, and heating and cooling system upgrades at sites across the district.

Security cameras were installed at all elementary schools in this project. Last year, cameras were installed at five elementary schools and junior high schools and were upgraded at high schools. They are an additional layer of security.

The district replaced school buses that it said needed replacement. Improvements were done to the district’s wireless system for instructional, student and staff use. UCS also purchased more than 19,000 devices for students and staff to use. The district provided devices for all UCS students at the beginning of this school year to learn virtually.

Interim Superintendent Robert Monroe said the school district is dedicated to safely helping their students return to in-classroom learning by ensuring a smooth and prepared transition.

“Utica Community Schools is committed to providing a safe and effective learning environment, especially as we transition our students back to in-person learning. Through fiscal accountability and effective management of resources, we will continue to enhance our community’s investment by enhancing safety, improving technology and addressing the long-range facility needs of Michigan’s second largest school district,” Monroe said in a prepared statement.

John Graham, the assistant superintendent for auxiliary services for Utica Community Schools, said the completion of the projects shows that the district is dedicated to supporting the community it serves and growing to adapt to its needs.

“It’s exciting to watch the projects go from the design stages to completion and to see how these improvements are supporting our district’s educational mission. The work that is being completed by this bond issue further enhances the investment our community has made in school facilities,” he said.

For more information or bond issue updates, visit uticak12.org/2018bond/updates.