Board shares bond vote feedback

The Mayville Community Schools Board of Education wants to learn from its loss.

The board discussed feedback its members have gotten since the May 7 defeat of the district’s bond proposal. Each board member spoke Aug. 13 about what they had been hearing from people since the election, as well as their own take on what happened.

Back in May, district voters overwhelmingly turned down the sale of $10 million in bonds, 884-350. Money from the sale of the bonds, to be paid back via a 1.6-mill property tax levy, was to be used to fund technology, safety and efficiency work at Mayville High School and to connect Mayville High School to Mayville Middle School.

The two buildings along Fulton Street would be transformed into one complex via a corridor consisting of a hallway, a science classroom and a classroom where educators would teach the “STEM” subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Those plans date back to the August 2016 start of strategic planning by district officials. That was followed by numerous informational sessions, including one in the final week before the vote.

Because it was a special election, and nothing else was on the ballot, voting was just in two sites instead of the normal precincts, Superintendent Barry Markwart said, and some people didn’t like that, even though that procedure is dictated by state law.

Raising the millage rate to 7 mills also was factor, he said.

And some people, he said, were misinformed about the issue despite the 15 meetings – board meetings, community sessions, etc. – and mass mailings designed to get the proper information out to residents.

“So we had the opportunity to get the information out to the people,” Markwart said. “But we have to figure out a way to reach more people and get the facts out versus what people may believe is going on but is not.

“What I wanted to do as a superintendent was to be transparent and open and make sure everyone got stuff. We wanted to say, ‘Here’s exactly what is going on.’”

While the defeat was stunning, Markwart said it is taking local school districts two to four times to get such proposals passed. “This was our first go-round,” he said, “and we knew it was going to be a tough, uphill battle.”

Now, he said, the job is to get and use input from residents about what they want in the schools and their concerns.

“We have to find a way to reconstruct that, to reevaluate that (proposal),” he said. “Those are the things we have to find out this time, how we actually are going to get something the community and the voters will support.”

Markwart indicated the district will be looking at putting another bond proposal in front of the residents sometime in the future.

“I am trying to look to the future,” he said, “so that, 20 years down the road, they are not back in the same boat we are in now.”

The school board also:

• Accepted the resignation of elementary teacher and varsity girls’ basketball coach Michael Banyas. The Otisville native, who taught for 16 years at Brown City and previously was a principal for LakeVille Schools, spent the past school year at Mio-Au Sable. But he never got the chance to teach in Mayville because he accepted a job as an elementary principal at Gobles Public Schools before the school year even started.

• Set lunch rates at $2.70 for grade K-12 students and $3.35 for adults, and kept milk prices at 50 cents.

• Pay was set at $85 per day for teacher substitutes, while all other staff subs will get $11 per hour.

• Approved the elementary and middle/high school handbooks.

• Went into closed session to review the superintendent’s progress on his yearly goals. Markwart gets new goals each November, when he is evaluated.

Mark Haney is a staff writer for The Advertiser. He can be reached at haney@tcadvertiser.com.

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