Alcona sinking fund increases lifespan of buildings

News Photo by Julie Goldberg The canopy to the Alcona Middle/High School entrance, as seen here on Friday, was fixed with new support beams because of a sinking fund that Alcona County voters approved in 2015.

LINCOLN — For the past four years, Alcona Community Schools has been able to increase the longevity of its buildings.

Alcona County voters approved a sinking fund for five years in 2015. The sinking fund, which was for 1 mill, has generated around $500,000 each year.

Since 2016, when the funds starting rolling in, the roofs for the middle/high school, the new gymnasium, auditorium, and the district’s Headstart preschool building have all been replaced and updated. The canopy at the middle/high school entrance has also been updated with new support beams.

Superintendent Dan O’Connor said the main reason for asking voters to approve the sinking fund in 2015 was because of roofs that were not holding up after 25 years. He said a promise to the community when the sinking fund passed in 2015 was replacing the roofs first.

This summer, Alcona Elementary School’s roof will be replaced. O’Connor said decisions will be made with any money that’s leftover, and if there are extra funds, the district’s Sugar Shack building could also get a new roof.

“Through four years, we’ll have almost every roof in the district up to par and that should put the district in a good position for 20 years,” O’Connor said.

Next year, year five of the sinking fund, the district will look into other items that may need to be fixed. There are windows in the middle/high school that are original and not energy efficient and old asbestos tiles in some classrooms, and even though those are safe now, it needs to be addressed and removed, O’Connor said. There is also carpet in the elementary school that’s original from the 1980s.

“During the 2000s and the last 15 years with school funding being inconsistent and enrollment being inconsistent, it’s hard to budget for that while you’re trying to keep teachers in classrooms,” O’Connor said. “That was the priority, to try to make sure we had class sizes as reasonable as possible and we were putting good programs in place for kids.”

The sinking fund has been integral with bringing the facilities up-to-date, O’Connor said. He said new windows will help the district be energy efficient.

“It invests back in the district,” he said. “I can’t understate how beneficial the sinking fund has been. It’s allowed us not have to use as much general funds with a few of these projects as needed and to bring back programs like band and have agriscience be full time instead of half time.”

Since next year is the last year for funds, Alcona’s Board of Education will have to make a decision about going for another sinking fund since there will be more projects in the future. O’Connor said the board will most likely have conversations about it through the district’s strategic planning process.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.