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Dearborn District's Sale of Elementary School Dependent On Several Factors

District finances, future funding requests, the needs of students and real estate values will figure into the decision to sell Howe School and move district offices.

For the members of the Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education and the district administration, selling Howe Elementary School and moving its programs to the current Ten Eyck headquarters, then moving its central office to the new city hall is a complex issue dependent on several factors.

The city, which is planning to move its City Hall facilities to a new location, had hoped to get the school on board with applying for a joint services grant through the state that could have awarded them up to $800,000 for combining their services. The board last month .

But beyond that, other issues play into the decision to sell Howe and shuffle around their buildings—such as whether the district will ask voters for a millage or a sinking fund, the value of the Howe facility, and the costs associated with retrofitting the Ten Eyck facility to accommodate the needs of students, many of whom are physically disabled.

The district has been in talks with Oakwood Healthcare about the purchase of Howe. The school sits near the company's main hospital on Oakwood Boulevard.

“What was brought up at the (Nov. 27 school board) meeting is that the Administrative Services Center would be turned back into a school,” David Mustonen, the district spokesman, explained. “But the board is looking at whether that would be efficient and cost effective; that it’s not just shuffling kids around.

"We can’t make decisions in a vacuum."

Mustonen said the factors that could lead to a sale would be the value of the Howe facility; the fact that Dearborn Schools will likely be asking for more taxes, and whether its the best decision for students.

“The board is looking at: where are the biggest needs, what do we need to do,” Mustonen said.

A sinking fund, by law, has to be used for building repairs and upgrades, and if approved by voters, could be used to make repairs at Howe. Or, the funds could also be used to pay for renovations at Ten Eyck, should the district headquarters move to the new city hall.

Howe houses several special education programs, and the district’s Montessori School. But because the building is antiquated and need of repairs, there could be some advantages to moving students into the Ten Eyck facility, which has a more modern layout.

Mustonen said the district would need to expend significant amounts of money to make repairs at Howe in the future, but would also also have to expend dollars to retrofit the Ten Eyck building if the moves were to come to pass. And there would be costs associated with moving in and out of each facility, he added.

At the board's regular meeting Dec. 10, Trustee Hussein Berry expressed concern over how information about the potential sale of Howe is being meted out of the board offices.

“Last week I was approached by a student that asked if we sold his school,” said Berry, noting that media coverage of the issue was causing discussion, and that the district needed to make sure the correct information was getting out.

For his part, Supt. Brian Whiston said the administration doing the best it can to balance all the issues and consequences of such a move, and will keep the board informed about the potential sale so trustees can make an informed decision.

laplateau December 13, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Yeah---here we go again. The school district is about to ask for a millage increase because of ...yada yada yada...get everybody convinced the schools are going to go to hgell in a handbasket, we are going to have to cut programs and sports if the millage doesn't pass, put it in front of the voters, we believe them, vote for the millage increase THEN...they ante up their share of the new city hall/school admin center and move in to the new office space, but all new furniture,,,and lo and behold, none of that millage icrease money ends up doing anything for what they said it would. How may times are the citizens of Dearborn going to allow themseslves to be duped. Mayor O"Rielly did it, now Whiston and the school board members think they can too. WAKE UP DEARBORN!!
Moe December 13, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Like the part where they could have gotten $800,000 from the state but decided to wait and now will want a millage. If they screw us just a few more times they will be qualified to work in Lansing or Washington.
laplateau December 14, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Moe---right on! But, even if they were to get $800,00 from Lansing, it makes no difference...where doe Lansing get their money? Right...from you and I. It comes from our taxes. Makes no difference if it is directly from millage rates or state taxes...it's OUR money. It makes me sick when I hear any elected officials try to justify spending by saying the money is from a state or or federal "GRANT". NEITHER THE STATE OF FEDS GET MONEY TO GRANT OTHER THAN FROM OUR TAXES.
Tom B December 14, 2012 at 04:39 PM
We just bailed out HFCC and they gave the outgoing CEO a severance. Then we voted for the Art Institute, before that the Zoo. Dearborn residents have been very generous to our schools, police and fire. How many more times can you "go to the well" and bailout these groups?

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