ORION - School board members unanimously passed a resolution letting the district start projects that will be funded using the county-wide one-cent facilities sales tax before the money starts coming in one year from now.
Superintendent David Deets said the Orion school district is expected to receive $300,000 per year from the tax. He cited possible uses for the money, such as more electronic locks, air-conditioning at the high school, upgrading electrical systems, parking lot improvements, a covered walkway from the agriculture building to the main building and an all-weather track.
Some of the projects, he said, are "feasible, doable and smart in the next few years, if not sooner."He said a committee reviewing possible improvements is trying to meet at least quarterly.
He credited the successful April 9 sales tax referendum with providing the district with resources for needed improvements.
"I think it's going to make a big difference in what our facilities will look like in the next five years," he said.
Board members learned a storage room in the industrial arts building has been converted into a weight room. Orion High School no longer offers industrial arts because of low student interest.
The board also reviewed a list of considerations for the district to move fifth grade classes to the middle school, making the most of an underutilized middle building and allowing pre-kindergarten classes to move from portable facilities at C.R. Hanna into the main building.
It was stressed that no decision has been made and won't be made for the 2013-14 school year.
Board members also discussed phasing in fees for pre-kindergarten, charging parents $25 per month next year, $35 per month for the 2014-15 school year and $50 per month for successive years. Orion's chances of state funding for pre-kindergarten are not good, it was stated, because the district does not have enough low-income families.
The district also is considering transporting pre-kindergarten students first thing in the morning and at the end of the day with two half-day sessions, leaving mid-day transportation up to parents. The district also may look into a Suburban for families who have trouble transporting pre-kindergarten children.
The board also:
* Rehired Emily Walker as Response to Intervention coordinator.
* Hired Courtnie Rigg as special education aide,Crista Barr as assistant head cook,Anita Jackson as secretary, and Shondra Ruff as art teacher and Response to Intervention aide.
* Approved stipends for Jay Solomonson as co-op education coordinator and career tech teacher.