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Aggressive timeline set for completion of Alpena Public Schools summer renovations

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Signs notifying the public of bond projects being completed at Ella White Elementary School are pictured outside on Thursday.

ALPENA — Crews working on renovations for Alpena Public Schools are on an aggressive timeline to complete the projects by the time the 2021-22 school year begins on August 30.

The projects planned for Ella White, Besser, Lincoln, and Wilson elementary schools this summer are part of a $33.9 million safe, warm, dry bond approved by voters in March of 2020.

Superintendent Dave Rabbideau said planning has also begun for a second series of renovations, which will be completed next summer at Sanborn and Hinks elementary schools, Thunder Bay Junior High School, and Alpena High School.

Rabbideau said the bulk of the work this summer is being completed at Ella White, which will receive a new roof, boilers, and secure entryway and office areas. He said asbestos removal is being completed in every classroom in preparation for infrastructure upgrades.

Additionally, the playground will be relocated to the northeast end of the building so a new parking lot can be constructed where the playground is currently located.

Rabbideau said the timeline for Ella White’s renovations is the most aggressive.

“You know, we’re going right up to the start of the school year,” he said. “We fully expect to be ready to go, but that is a lot of work that’s being completed, and we ask for patience and grace should that timeline be extended.”

Besser and Wilson elementaries will also receive new roofs and boilers over the summer. Work at Wilson will also include a new secured entrance and office and the resurfacing of its parking lot.

Upgrades to Lincoln Elementary School will include a secured entryway and office area.

Rabbideau said many bids for the work to be completed this summer came in under budget and district officials believe they may have additional funds available for the bond work scheduled for next summer.

Sanborn, Hinks, Thunder Bay Junior High School, and Alpena High School would be the focus for the work being completed next summer. He said a lot of the work being planned for next summer also includes secured entryways and parking lot improvements.

Rabbideau said officials are waiting to see how much money is left over so they can make additional improvements to the high school.

“It’s sort of the highest need building, because it’s the largest, and we want to finish all the other work first so that we know how much we have available,” he said. “And then we go back to the list of everything we identified through the proposal process and say what we can do and what we still cannot do.”

In the meantime, he said the summer projects are on time.

The district’s bond will be paid off over 25 years through property taxes. Officials estimate the new bonds will cost about 1.8 mills or about $90 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home, though the tax rate can fluctuate based on the annual bond payments due and the taxable value of property in the district.

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