On the August 6 ballot, voters will see just one item: a proposal from the Washtenaw Intermediate School District for a $53.3 million bond to partly renovate but mostly rebuild High Point School. If approved, it would cost taxpayers 0.37 mills for ten years or $55.50 annually for a home with a taxable value of $150,000.
The school’s “honeycomb” design–pods of classrooms fanning out from small common areas–was “supposed to be state-of-the-art and creative” when it opened in 1975, says WISD superintendent Scott Menzel.
Back then, High Point “included a number of vocational programs and training options for students who were mentally impaired,” he explains. “But most such students are now generally educated in their home school districts.”
Most of today’s High Point students “have severe medical challenges and needs,” Menzel adds, “including traches [tracheostomies], feeding tubes, [and the] kind of things that require more nursing assistance and support.” That means “a lot of wheelchairs, [and] a lot of adaptive equipment” are now trying to navigate the honeycomb’s maze of corridors and narrow doorways.
Menzel says they plan to “preserve the most expensive parts of the building–the gym and the pool area. The honeycomb will be replaced with offices and a row of classrooms.
High Point averages about seventy students and nine or ten teachers, plus many assistants, physical and occupational therapists, nurses, and speech and language pathologists. Their goal, says Menzel, is to help students “achieve their full potential and live productive and full lives as best as is possible.”
If voters approve the bond, Menzel says, they’ll aim to have a temporary location for the school ready for occupancy in January–they’re “working with Ypsilanti Community Schools on the potential lease” of the onetime Willow Run Middle School.”
Demolition would begin this winter and construction next spring. “Our ultimate goal would be to have the construction completed and the students back in the facility in the fall of 2021.”