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Hastings' bond request fails Time to go back to the drawing board, new schools chief says

Hastings' bond request fails Time to go back to the drawing board, new schools chief says

Hastings' bond request fails Time to go back to the drawing board, new schools chief says

Joan Van Houten Staff Writer

A $9.99 million bond proposal for Hastings Area School System failed Tuesday by 200 votes.

The Barry County clerk confirmed the unofficial count of 3,828 total votes, with 1,814 yes and 2,014 no votes cast.

 “It's the will of the community,” Dan Remenap, the new superintendent who starts June 1, said.“We have to go back to the drawing board and work hard to find a way to get things done.”

Once he officially starts his role as superintendent, Remenap said his first step will be to meet with operations and administrative staff to prioritize the maintenance areas that need immediate attention.

The projects that were intended for completion under the school bond proposal were complete roof replacement for Southeastern and Northeastern elementary schools, and partial roof replacements for Star and Central elementary schools. Additional roof replacement included the 1997 portion of the roof at the middle school, and the 1970 portion of the roof at the high school.

Other projects in the proposal were window replacements at Southeastern and Northeastern elementary; flooring at Southeastern, Northeastern, Central and Star elementary; interior doors at Southeastern, Northeastern, Central and the high school; bathrooms and locker rooms at the middle and high schools; and a cafeteria servery and lockers at the high school.

Funding the projects may take some creative thinking, Remenap said, but he's confident that, as a team, they will succeed.

“Every challenge is an opportunity, and open communication is so important,” he said. “We are going to be an open book. I'm excited about talking to the residents of the school district and hearing what they have to say – positive and negative – and learn what we need to do to get support for the work needing to be done at our schools.

“There's a solution. It's just going to take a little more work to find it. I'm not a defeatist.”

Luke Haywood, president of the school board, said the result of the election was disappointing but solutions must be found.

“The administration and district staff are committed to providing the best learning environment for our students, and that means the board is going to have to make some tough decisions,” Haywood said.

No decisions will be made until the board meets with district staff and Remenap and begin discussions to identify critical needs.

Before this election, Hastings schools have had six bond requests on the ballot since 2010. Of those, voters have approved two: An August 2010 request for $3.2 million passed by 105 votes. A November 2015 bond request for $44.59 million passed with a 207-vote margin.

The four other requests, in May 2015 for $55 million; in November 2017 for $19.5 million and $10.5 million; and August 2018, $11.1 million, were defeated. School officials have said that these requests were intended to address roof repair issues as well as remodeling, equipping and re-equipping school facilities, along with other needed improvements.




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