ISHPEMING - The Ishpeming School Board heard a wide range of comments at a public hearing regarding attitudes toward the possibility of a second millage to support a school building project.
The board listened as members of the public gave their opinions at the W.C. Peterson Auditorium Monday evening.
"It was a very useful session," said board Vice President David Leverton. "I think there's still a lot of discussion the board needs to have."
Since the failure of an $11.2 million millage proposal in May 2010, district parents have approached the board about trying a second time to secure the funding to provide more space for students within the Birchview Elementary School and the Ishpeming High School/Central School complex.
Several parents at the meeting encouraged the board to move forward with a second millage to help alleviate issues resulting from the move of students out of the C.L. Phelps Middle School. They also want to address issues that existed at the Birchview School even before the move, such as no space for an art room and having the library set up on the gym stage.
"We have to do something," parent Rebecca Johnson said.
Other parents offered to help conduct a phone campaign or other activities to get information out to voters, should the board decide to go for another millage.
Many of those who attended the meeting and spoke suggested a second millage bid with a smaller price tag - to take care of necessities like a kitchen and art and music rooms.
Another common comment was the need to get more information to the public before a vote, and to work more closely with the city council, which did not support the 2010 millage effort.
"However we proceed with this, whichever way we go, let's work close with the city council, get them involved, see what they're willing to step up and back us with. I think that's very important and I have a feeling that was one big nail in the coffin of that last millage that didn't pass," said Linda Denofre, another district parent.
Some city residents questioned why - when Ishpeming graduating classes once numbered in the hundreds of students and more recently have dropped below 100 - there is a problem fitting students into the district's buildings. Others suggested consolidation with neighboring districts.
"I think we've got enough capacity for housing our students. I think we should use what's available," said parent Dean Stetson. "... My opinion is if there are two school districts that are perfect for consolidation it would be Ishpeming and NICE."
The board made no decisions on whether to move forward with the millage Monday. Leverton said any millage effort would still need to be approved by the Michigan Department of Treasury.
Due to the district's mandated deficit elimination plan, any millage could not raise the district's operating budget, he said.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.