By Cari Rutkoskie
Following the defeat of Schoolcraft Community School’s bond in November 2019, a group of concerned parents decided to take action and form the YES for SCS bond team.
Kory Bienz, one of the group’s leaders, indicated that the community and the parents needed a group of people to step up and lead the charge. “The response after the bond didn’t pass in November was overwhelming. I assumed that the bond would pass because the problems with the buildings are so clear to me. We realized that we needed to inform the community about everything that’s wrong with buildings that just can’t be fixed any more. We formed the team and invited community members and parents to join us so we could educate people about the cold, hard facts of the situation with our school buildings. We don’t want people to vote no because they don’t have the information, or worse because they are misinformed.”
Randy Blankenship, another of the YES for SCS team leaders, said he regrets not voting in November because he was new to the community. He wants to see a different outcome this time around. “I’m doing this for the kids. I have young kids who will grow up in these schools, and I want them to have a great building to learn in. I don’t want them to go to schools that are falling apart. Great school buildings are important for more than just the students – they are an important element in keeping great teachers and school staff. And as a Realtor, I know that strong schools impact our property values. I chose to move here and invest in my home, and I want to see this community grow and stay strong.”
Katie Redmond is co-leading the YES for SCS team because she’s passionate about Schoolcraft Community Schools. A former PTO president, Katie was part of the facilities committee that worked for two years to put together the current bond proposal. She was also involved in the bond proposal that failed in 2014. She said the YES for SCS team feels different than previous efforts. “This time, we’re taking a different approach. The team is out there in the community doing outreach. We’re making it more personal. We’re going door to door and engaging people in conversations. We’re inviting parents and community members to join us, and they are much more involved. We have a much clearer plan this time, and our communication is more consistent,” Redmond said.
“The bond may not be perfect in everyone’s eyes, but it’s the best plan,” Redmond added. “It gives the schools a lot of what it needs while honoring the feedback we got from the community about cost and what people are willing to support. It’s a compromise that I believe will only benefit us as a community. I’ve spent a lot of time in our schools as a parent and volunteer, and I understand what we are missing,” Redmond pointed out. “Our teachers and the education they provide are phenomenal, but they deserve a facility that complements their hard work – someplace safe, secure, with usable spaces to help grow these little people into strong, compassionate, well-educated adults. It truly takes a village to raise children, and this is an opportunity for our village, our community, to pour into these kiddos. For a few dollars a week, we can change lives and uplift our community.”
Dawn Burton is one of the many volunteers who raised her hand and offered to help with the YES for SCS campaign. “I am volunteering for the YES campaign because I believe our children and school faculty need a safe, comfortable, updated learning environment. The reality is that these buildings are beyond repair. At some point we have to say to ourselves, is it worth fixing anymore? And it is very clear the time has come to rebuild. The heating and cooling systems are failing and the roofs and ceilings leak in the two buildings. Our children and teachers do not have the space they need to move freely or store items. There are also major safety concerns. Any individual who comes into the school enters directly into the student population. In the event of an emergency, classrooms have no panic buttons or the ability to call the office. Over 50 years ago, when the elementary school was built, this was not a concern, but our world is sadly very different today. This community is known for its excellent school district. The kids and teachers who make this district what it is do not deserve unsafe conditions. My kids, your kids, and our teachers and staff are my why,” Burton exclaimed.
Heather Barkalow, another YES for SCS volunteer, said, “My husband and I chose this district based solely on the size of the school and its phenomenal reputation. Our three kids have been provided with nothing but the best academic and social experiences, but now the district needs help. Going door to door and making our neighbors aware of the school bond and the dire need for new facilities is the least we can do as parents. It’s my hope that every member of this community will see that our children, teachers, staff, and administration deserve new facilities that are safe, designed for today’s world, and provide an increased sense of Eagle Pride. Voting YES for SCS will provide them with just that.”
Scott and Kelly Goddard are also volunteers for YES for SCS. “My wife and I have volunteered in the schools since our kids started pre-K, and we have seen first-hand the challenges the teachers face, including crowded classrooms with inefficient temperature control, limited outlets, and a lack of security,” Scott Goddard said. “The teachers have learned to adapt in creative ways, but the conditions are not getting any better. In our experience, SCS has incredible and passionate staff who deserve what is necessary to do their job effectively. It’s not just about the kids – it’s about the community as a whole. Saying yes to this bond will have a lasting impact on both current and future generations. Please vote yes on March 10,” he said.
To learn more about the bond issue, visit the school’s website at http://www.scs-bond.com or the YES for SCS Facebook page.