by CYNTHIA KMETT
It’s been a busy summer in the Troy School District even as the students were enjoying a vacation. The district is finishing up its second series of renovations from the 2013 bonds issue approved by voters. Athens High School was the recipient of two summers of recent renovations that included new heating and cooling systems. Site work across the district in the past few years has included everything from new roofs to parking lots.
As Troy Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Machesky notes, “It’s just like your home – if you don’t keep it up, it costs you twice as much to repair in the future.”
This continuing need for maintenance of buildings and grounds has led the district to put a 1 mill (one mill) ballot question for a “Building Site and Sinking Fund” on the November 7th ballot. As Dr. Machesky explained to the Kiwanis Club of Troy last Tuesday, this money will only be used to maintain the integrity of buildings in the district for things like security, infrastructure, and even new buses. Besides, he pointed out, when you issue bonds you have to pay interest to the bond holders. This fund will save the district $3.8 million annually.
The best part? It will not increase your property taxes because the district has debt service that will be retiring this year. It is a wash and you still get the best schools in the state.
A big topic of discussion this summer in Michigan has been when to start the new school year, Dr. Machesky observed. It seems that the state has given Oakland County a waiver on the requirement to start classes after Labor Day. Troy, however, had already set its calendar for the coming year, so classes begin the first week in September…this year.
For two years starting in the fall of 2018, classes will start the week before Labor Day. The school year will still be 180 days, but the earlier start gives the district more flexibility.
The district will assess how that earlier start has worked when the two years are over. The district and its teachers have settled their new contract before school begins. That’s the first time that has happened since 1991. This contract is for two-and-a-half years, ending in December 2019, so parents won’t have to worry about whether or not school will start on time. Most issues today are about students and money, Dr. Machesky said, noting some issues have been taken off the table by the state.
While many districts are closing schools, that is not a problem in Troy. “School enrollment is still edging up in Troy,” the superintendent noted, with enrollment expected at about 13,000 and heading to 13,350 in the next three years and then leveling off. (Have you seen the homes going up on the John R corridor?)
“Even kindergarten numbers are on the rise for the first time in quite a few years,” Dr. Machesky said. This has led to a reduction in the number of students who can come to Troy as a “school of choice.” Only students who already have a sibling in the Troy Schools can enroll.
With the increase in students, do we have room for them all? It’s a question often asked by those who don’t want new homes built near them. Interestingly, Dr. Machesky said that while some of the schools on the west side of Troy have tight conditions, on the east side there’s still plenty of room. In addition, most school sites have room to expand and add a wing if there’s a need for more classrooms. The district also will look at adjusting some attendance areas for more equitable distribution of students.
Get those school supplies ready; September is on the horizon.