Design and preliminary building work will soon begin for two additions to the Dexter Community School district.

Construction of a new elementary school and an alternative education space is being funded by a $72(m) million bond passed by voters in August. On Monday, the Board of Education met and discussed the projects’ plans, then approved resolutions allowing the design process of the alternative space to move ahead, as well as groundwork for the elementary school.

However prior to the discussion and approvals, some residents asked district officials to slow the process down. No less than five community members spoke at the board’s meeting, expressing similar feelings that district stakeholders had not been consulted or updated on the projects utilizing the bond money. Several asked that the board gather more feedback, consider the district’s needs, and then spend the money “equally and thoughtfully”.

Superintendent Chris Timmis says informational meetings regarding the bond proposal were held for two years and the board is now at the point of awarding bid contracts. Board Treasurer Richard Lundy says “aggressive timelines” are driven by the goal to open the new elementary school by next year. The building will displace a few athletic fields, which means new ones will have to be built in time to accommodate spring sports.

Board President Michael Wendorf feels there is an “urgent need” to complete construction and agrees sometimes the process can appear to lack transparency. He says perhaps the board can do a better job of keeping constituents up to date on the project, but argues that community collaboration has always been welcomed. (DK)