top of page

MPS board awards bid to demolish State Street building

Dan Chalk

Nov 23, 2021

In a related subject, Sharrow told the Daily News that the request for proposals period for the vacant Eastlawn property has closed. MPS will review proposals that it received from three companies, then interview the companies, and will probably enter into negotiations with one of them about sale of the property for redevelopment, he said.

The Midland Public Schools board of education voted Monday night to approve an $83,900 bid from Bierlein Companies, Inc., of Midland to demolish the district's State Street building, which is at the corner of State and Carpenter and adjacent to the MPS administration center where the meeting was held.

The board approved the bid, which was recommended by the administration, by a 4-0 count, with Treasurer Jon Lauderbach recusing himself from the voting to avoid a potentially perceived conflict of interest involving one of his clients. Board President Scott McFarland and member Patrick Frazee were absent from the meeting, and Vice President Phil Rausch presided over the meeting in McFarland's place.

The State Street building was originally called First Ward School when it was built in approximately 1918. In 1947, it reached an enrollment of 585 students shortly before Eastlawn Elementary School was completed to absorb some of those students. The building closed as a school in 1976 and then became a special education services center and later a science resource center.

The demolition will be paid from the 2015 Bond Projects using Series 2 bonds.

MPS Superintendent Michael Sharrow told the Daily News that Quality Environmental is almost finished removing asbestos from the State Street building. He expects the demolition to start by mid-January and finish by March 1.

Update on vacant Eastlawn property

In a related subject, Sharrow told the Daily News that the request for proposals period for the vacant Eastlawn property has closed. MPS will review proposals that it received from three companies, then interview the companies, and will probably enter into negotiations with one of them about sale of the property for redevelopment, he said.

The three companies are PK Development Group, LLC, of Okemos; River Caddis Development of East Lansing; and Samaritas, Chesapeake Community Advisors, and Pinnacle Construction Group of Grand Rapid, Chicago, and Baltimore, Maryland.

"We’ll have the City of Midland and the (Midland Area) Community Foundation review the proposals," Sharrow noted. "It’s MPS's decision, but we'd like their input."

Preparing for possible vaccine mandate

In remarks at the end of the meeting, Sharrow noted that despite a current U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that has suspended the enforcement of President Joe Biden's COVID vaccine mandate for companies with 100 or more employees, MPS remains prepared to follow the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration's requirements for enforcing that mandate should the court ruling be reversed.

"This puts us in limbo. If it gets reversed, we will have some really tight deadlines to meet," Sharrow said. "We have to plan accordingly to be in the right position if that mandate goes through."

Twenty of the more than 100 members of the public who attended Monday's meeting addressed the board, which limited each speaker to three minutes.

Student disappointed MPS restricts CNN 10 news program at middle schools

The first speaker was Jefferson Middle School eighth-grader Gillian Smith, who expressed her disappointment at the recent MPS decision to discontinue showing a news program called CNN 10 at Northeast and Jefferson middle schools.

"We were confused and didn't have an explanation (for the decision). We were kept in the dark about it," Smith said.

Smith said she is the editor-in-chief of the Jefferson student newspaper, and she took a random survey of students across all grades that found that 92% of them are unhappy with the district's decision.

"Please put a little more thought into this decision before you make a final decision," Smith said.

Sharrow told the Daily News on Tuesday that there is a specific CNN 10 program that CNN recommends for ages 13 and up, and the district is following that recommendation. And he said a resource called Discovery Ed is available for those under age 13.

Concerns about mask mandate, children getting vaccine

Many other speakers voiced their opposition to the MPS mask mandate for grades K-6, which Sharrow has announced will be lifted on Dec. 13. Some speakers also expressed concerns about the idea of children getting the COVID vaccine. PBS recently reported vaccinating a child against COVID-19 is safe, and the benefits of doing so far outweigh the risks of waiting and potentially getting sick with the coronavirus, the CDC has stated after extensive clinical trials. Health experts also say it is safe to get vaccinated against COVID and the flu at the same time.

Two other speakers, on the other hand, implored the school board and the superintendent to impose broader mask mandates in light of the current COVID numbers.

Teacher speaks out about attacks on teachers teaching the district curriculum

Another speaker, Midland High English teacher Becky Thomas-King, said she was there "to advocate for friends and colleagues who are under attack for teaching the district curriculum."

Thomas-King mentioned the book "To Kill a Mockingbird," which has been taught in school for decades but now teachers are being "harassed and bullied" for teaching it, according to Thomas-King.

She also noted that a Dow High English teacher had recently announced her resignation.

"She can't easily be replaced. One of the worst things that can happen is when a great employee doesn't care anymore because they don't feel supported," Thomas-King said.

Sharrow told the Daily News on Tuesday that the district fully supports teachers in their instruction of books that are approved for the curriculum, including To Kill a Mockingbird.

"We’ve received no complaints about that specific book," he said.

Sharrow said he is concerned about what Thomas-King said about how she and fellow teachers are feeling.

"With the debate over our inclusion and diversity efforts, we’re all feeling an awful lot of pressure throughout the district," he said. "This is probably one of the highest-stress times I've seen in our industry. I’m absolutely concerned about what we’re going through."

Other business

In other business during Monday's 90-minute meeting, Sharrow recognized the district's two monthly Shining Star Award recipients: Woodcrest Elementary speech-language therapist Farrah Merges and recently retired crossing guard Charles Supinger.

The board also voted to approve athletic eligibility for a Midland High School student upon the recommendation of a board subcommittee of four board members which had met with the unnamed student and the student's family along with Sharrow and the Midland High and Dow athletics directors.

Associate Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Penny Miller-Nelson informed the school board of the composition of the district's 2021-22 Advisory Board on Instruction in Sex Education and Birth Control. She said the composition of the 11-member advisory board meets the requirements of the state Department of Education.

The advisory board is co-chaired by the Rev. Wally Mayton and educator and parent Steve Poole and includes one Midland High student and one Dow High student as well as school board Secretary John Hatfield as a school board liaison to the advisory board and also a parent.

The board approved a purchase order of $165,856.85 to Great Lakes Furniture Supply of Holland to purchase Dow High School cafeteria furniture, using food service funds. The board also approved a seven-year contract estimated at $945.953 with Edupoint Synergy for a new Student Information System, which was last bid in 2001; and a seven-year contract estimated at $1,266.722 with Tyler Munis to replace and upgrade the Educational Resource Planning System, which was last bid in 2001.

bottom of page