Two-story Vassar High School proposed

Vassar High School
Vassar High School

A new two-story Vassar High School academic wing – built on the site of the school’s parking lot at Division and Athletic streets – is one of the improvements if Vassar Public Schools voters approve a $19.7 million bond issue on May 2.
Tuscola County Clerk Jodi Fetting this week released the school district’s language for the May ballot issue, which asks voters to increase property taxes to pay back investors who would buy the bonds to finance the project.
If voters approve the 30-year bond issue, workers would demolish the existing high school academic wing that leads from the gymnasium toward Athletic Street and continues west along Athletic Street, said Dorothy “Dot” Blackwell, Vassar Public Schools superintendent.
“The rationale behind that (new academic wing) is because of the issues with roofing and structural issues that we have – plus our need to make quality instructional classroom space so that kids can appropriately be using that space for 21st century learning,” Blackwell said.
Workers would build a new parking lot on the site of the demolished high school academic wing, according to an informational website Blackwell referred to –
The $7 million replacement of the high school’s academic wing is a main cost that would be covered by passage of the bond issue, according to the website. The website lists 67 “priority items” that would be paid for by approval of the bond issue.
Ballot language provided by the county clerk indicates the owner of an $80,000 home would pay an average annual tax of $168 to pay back investors over 30 years if voters approve the sale of the bonds.
The owner of a $65,000 home would pay an average annual tax of $136.50 associated with the bond issue, while the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an average annual property tax of $210.
The property taxes paid during the first six years of the bond proposal would be higher, according to the website, as an initial 3-mill increase incurred by bond issue passage would be added to the district’s existing 2.5-mill rate. As a result the owner of a $65,000 home, for example, would pay $178.75 annually for the first six years of the bond issue, according to the website.
Other larger improvements listed on the website include $913,275 for a new metal roof at Central Elementary School; $885,600 for new buses; $595,320 to upgrade heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems in the high school gymnasium, cafeteria and auditorium; $541,200 to remodel the auditorium; $507,375 to remodel high school locker rooms; $446,490 to replace high school boilers; $364,080 to replace the roof and insulation at Townsend North School; $344,892 to repair and replace asphalt parking drives at the high school; $255,446 for new, accessible bleachers in the high school gymnasium; and $221,400 to replace bleachers at the football field.
“Every single building will have a new, secure entrance,” Blackwell said.
Workers would build a new high school parking lot on the site of the current high school academic wing.
Townsend North School along Athletic Street – named for one of Vassar’s founders and once the district’s elementary school, but now housing only preschool classes and with utilities shut off to part of the building – would be improved if voters pass the bond issue. Workers would demolish an octagonal portion of the Townsend North complex but make changes elsewhere.
“The idea is to make that more of an early childhood/community center,” Blackwell said. “We’ve already started writing some grants to create sort of a middle college concept, or a dual-enrollment center for our (high-school) students there.
“We’re going to bring that building back up to snuff so that we can start running programs. We’re looking at doing community activities, such as fitness classes and ways to bring our senior citizens in so that they can interact with our youngest students.
“We have some real ideas and vision for how Townsend North can become a more robust, vibrant part of our district.”
Tom Gilchrist is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at

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