Sunday, September 17, 2006

Getting Old

I must be getting old. I just read that three of my former teachers are retiring from teaching at Hillel Day School. One of these teachers is Noami Reiter, who didn't teach me at Hillel Day School but was my preschool teacher at Adat Shalom Synagogue Nursery School.

I also just read an article saying that my high school will be completely demolished and a new high school building will be erected in its place. The Detroit Free Press reports that both Bloomfield Hills Andover High School and the cross-town rival school Lahser will get completely new buildings.

Here's the article from the Freep:

Plan calls for new Andover, Lahser high schools
Outcry kills proposal to combine the two


Finally, consensus on the fate of Lahser and Andover high schools.

The plan is for two new ones, on the campuses of the old schools -- not a combined school.

The Bloomfield Hills School District board decision comes two years after public outcry killed a plan to put Lahser and Andover on one campus.

"We're due," David Lutz, the senior class president at Andover, said last week. "There are a lot of good memories in these buildings, but good things come to an end. I'll be glad to come back and see how the new building looks."

The district is among the richest in the state, and the schools are consistently recognized for their students' high test scores and other academic achievements.

In this era of shrinking school budgets, Bloomfield Hills' school board is thinking of asking voters to support a May bond referendum that would raise approximately $121 million by increasing property taxes about 1.4 mills. That would mean an average tax increase of about $270 a year on a typical $460,000 house in Bloomfield Township, according to district spokeswoman Betsy Erikson.

The district draws about 6,000 students from Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township and parts of West Bloomfield, Troy and Orchard Lake. Its high schools have about 1,000 students each.

Public meetings have been scheduled to introduce the tentative building plans, which call for construction to begin in 2008 with the new schools opening in the fall of 2010 with parts of the buildings, like pools and theaters, opening later that school year.

If public feedback is mainly positive, then the school board plans to take a formal vote on the plan. The board reached agreement on the plans last week, though no formal vote was taken.

The buildings would be built atop the current schools' parking lots and green spaces, minimizing disruptions for current students, school officials say. After the new schools are built, the current buildings -- Andover in Bloomfield Hills and Lahser in Bloomfield Township -- which are about 50 years old each, would be razed. During construction, some of the schools' athletic teams would have to share playing fields. "We haven't worked out the details," Erikson said.

The current plan, to be presented at meetings next month, calls for nearly identical buildings of about 275,000 square feet to be built on each site.

The ceilings of the schools leak, prompting janitors to set out buckets to catch the drips when it rains. The dressing rooms for the theater program are relatively small, and there are not enough outlets in the classrooms to support much modern technology, school officials say.

"You would not drive your grandmother's car," said Ingrid Day, 48, a volunteer in Bloomfield Hills and president of the district's Parent Teacher Organization Council. "That's what we're doing here. It would still work. It would get you from A to B. But could you do it more cost effectively and efficiently? Yes. And that's what we're talking about here."

The board considered several scenarios, including renovating the existing buildings. But the proposal to build new ones was less expensive, said board President Steve Weiss, a West Bloomfield attorney.

"We did a lot of study over the last year about the best way to go about doing this," Weiss said. "We want to be financially responsible and get the best bang for our buck, but we also want to do this right so it doesn't have to be redone in 10 years."

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