By Melanie McIntyre / WLAA
On Tuesday, Aug. 6, residents from nine local school districts will vote on a bond proposal to fund the reconstruction of a new High Point School, which serves students with significant needs receiving special education.
High Point is a public school, operated by Washtenaw Intermediate School District, and is dedicated to meeting the special needs of students with disabilities from ages 3 through 26. High Point offers programming for students with severe cognitive and multiple impairments, as well as providing services such as occupational therapy, speech pathology, physical therapy, music therapy, adaptive aquatics and staff consultations with medical specialists.
High Point School opened almost 45 years ago, and originally provided career and training programs for students with disabilities who had the capability to live and work independently. Since then, the school has evolved to serve students with significant medical, emotional, physical and cognitive needs, the only educational program in the county to do so.
Three other educational programs currently share the High Point School space: Honey Creek Community School (a K-8 public school academy for special needs students which provides an environment near their general education peers), Gretchen’s House (childcare & preschool) and WISD’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing program.
The proposed reconstruction plan is, “to tear down a portion of the current facility, while maintaining, yet renovating, the existing gym and pool space.” As the building’s student population has changed dramatically over the years, “the current High Point facility fails to accommodate the needs of our current students.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to tour High Point and it is evident that renovations are needed to support the students,” says Dexter Superintendent Chris Timmis. “The building is in need of significant work in order to best serve the most medically-fragile students from around the county, including Dexter.”
The High Point bond renovation plans include:
- Creating classrooms that meet student needs, including in-classroom wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, adequate space for wheelchairs to move, and technology to support enhanced learning opportunities.
- Building ample storage space for medical and accessibility equipment needs.
- Developing wide hallways that accommodate both wheelchair travel and foot traffic.
- Installing new mechanical and HVAC systems that ensure medically-fragile students consistently have reliable heating and cooling systems.
The proposed bond seeks to generate $53.295 million (an estimated 0.37 mill increase over 10 years), which would go directly toward the reconstruction of the school. “I think the WISD board has been responsible in setting the millage rate low for a short period of time in order to fund the work,” says Dr. Timmis.
Dexter resident and school board member, Julie Schumaker, personally urges the community to support the WISD bond proposal. “Dexter’s most vulnerable students deserve facilities designed to meet their unique needs and on par with the buildings we have in Dexter.”
On behalf of the Dexter Board of Education, Board President Michael Wendorf shared the following statement:
“Earlier this year, Superintendent Timmis and I had the opportunity to tour High Point School and discuss the Intermediate School District proposal for renovation and reconfiguration of High Point. This tour was a real eye opener.
High Point serves children and youth from across our area with severe medical, physical and cognitive impairments. The current building was constructed in 1975 for a different set of students and for a different purpose. I was saddened to see our most fragile children occupying a building poorly suited for them. They struggle with mobility within the building and there is limited natural light. Room configuration is not optimal for their needs and the services they require. Certainly we can, and should, do better in delivering vital services to these children.
The August 6 proposal would create a space that allows for greater and easier mobility, better use of space and more focus on the delivery of critical services to these students regardless of their medical and physical impairments. The bond, if approved, would be a .37 mil increase for a period of ten years.
Dr. Timmis and I have discussed this proposal with our full board. We support this request without hesitation.”
Voting will take place on Tuesday, August 6th; polls are open 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Residents of Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Lincoln, Manchester, Milan, Saline, Whitmore Lake and Ypsilanti school districts are eligible to vote on this proposal. If you are unable to vote in person, absentee ballots are available through township, city or county clerk offices.
Click here for WISD’s full FAQ regarding the High Point Bond Proposal.