Questions by the audience at the second forum on the Brighton Area Schools bond issue held Monday night ranged from what a proposed multi-purpose facility would be used for to why a high school STEAM Center is needed. Voters will be going to the polls on Nov. 5th to decide on a $59.4 million bond issue for a multitude of improvements in the Brighton School District.

One of those in attendance was Bill Drabing, a district parent and former coach in the district. He says he will vote “yes” for the bond issue and cites one particularly appealing aspect: a multi-purpose facility. Superintendent Greg Gray tells WHMI that the multi-purpose facility could be used for a myriad of activities by a large number of groups.

At the forum Gray was keen on the prospect of having a new, two-story STEAM center that would be built as an addition to the high school. He also touted the fact that the bond issue, if passed, would not raise district property taxes, but instead merely extend the length of the bond payoff by a couple of years. The bond issue would also result in STEAM center additions for each of the four elementary schools, plus STEAM center upgrades at Maltby Intermediate School and Scranton Middle School. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.

Dave Chesney, a former board vice president who is a professor of engineering at the University of Michigan, was the lone board member who voted against putting the bond issue on the ballot last year. He told WHMI that he still has reservations about the STEAM center, saying that administration has not come up with a specific curriculum or programs that would take advantage of the resources such a center offers. "It's a big, open building, and we label it as a STEAM center, but I don't know that we've necessarily defined exactly what STEAM curriculum might go on inside that facility and I think that's part of the problem. If there was curriculum defined, if we knew specifically what would go on on a weekly, daily basis, then that would help us to better understand the facility."

However, Superintendent Gray disagrees with Chesney’s assessment, telling WHMI that the curriculum is already in place and the STEAM center would be fully utilized. "I think we have the curriculum, I think we're utilizing the curriculum right now. I think that building, again, is another opportunity for us to expand on our curriculum. We have a lot of different uses we are prepared to do for that. We think that could do a lot for our science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics programs."

Improvements to school parking lots and new roofing are other major items in the bond issue, along with a plethora of facility and infrastructure upgrades at each school, including the Brighton Education and Community Center - which houses The Bridge Alternative High School - and the district transportation center.

Many, if not most, of the items in the bond issue were left out of the successful $89 million bond issue of 2012 because it would have put the price tag at substantially over $100 million, and it was feared voters would suffer sticker shock as a result. (TT)