JACKSON, MI – The Jackson County Middle School District is receiving a huge push from the state towards renovating a former elementary school into a centralized location for special education programs.
A grant of $ 10 million for the project is included in the recently adopted state budget. The money is earmarked through a Michigan Improvement Grant for “Elementary School HVAC Upgrades and Renovations,” through Senate Bill 82.
ISD plans to use the funding for the first phase of renovations to the former Frost Elementary School of Jackson Public Schools, 1226 S. Wisner St., after reaching a deal this summer to purchase the JPS building for 1 $.
The project helps JPS avoid demolition costs of one million dollars and provides ISD with a centralized location for its population with special needs and other services. JCISD Superintendent Kevin Oxley said lawmakers see the value of the project.
“Our special (education) children need extra facilities,” Oxley said. “Our (Lyle Torrant) Center is down.
“We are renting out space across the county in different school districts to manage classrooms for special education students. So we can bring many of them to a centralized location and have better wrap-around services. It will cost less because we will not be scattered across the county. “
Oxley had predicted that ISD would make an initial investment of $ 10 million to $ 12 million on renovations to the building, including the installation of a new HVAC system for air conditioning, in addition to major repairs to the roof and the reconfiguration of certain areas of the building. The entire renovation and reconfiguration of the building is expected to cost between $ 14 million and $ 15 million.
ISD sold $ 7.125 million in bonds to finance the project at an interest rate of 1.8% over 20 years. Oxley said the project has other benefits, including continued use of Frost after JPS invested to reduce asbestos through bond financing.
Oxley said he knew funding for the project was “a possibility” before the state budget passed on September 29, and that it was ultimately a “nice surprise” that will help ISD fund the project. project.
“That means we don’t have to use operating funds to make it happen,” Oxley said, noting that middle school districts had not received any federal emergency relief funds for elementary and secondary schools. “It just puts us in a better position to move forward into the future.”
Although Oxley has said he would like to have students in the building by fall 2022, this is probably not realistic, giving ISD time to plan the use of the space. and the student population it will serve.
Students with cognitive and emotional impairments, people with autism and older students in transition should all occupy the building, Oxley said.
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