BELDING — After a thorough reevaluation, members of the Belding Area Schools Board of Education reversed a decision from more than a year ago that will now keep the district’s administration building on Orchard Street open and in use.
At Monday night’s school board meeting, a unanimous vote changed a decision from November 2011 that was originally in favor of closing the facility.
Belding Superintendent Sara Shriver said the decision came after several committees gave the situation a second look.
“Prior to me coming into this position and through your bond process, you had all agreed that you would be closing this building as a budget reduction and a cost savings measure,” Shriver said to board members at Monday’s meeting. “Since then, we have erected a Facilities Use Committee, along with the Bond Committee, and one of the things that came out of both committees was discussion of keeping this facility open.”
The administration building is at 1975 Orchard St. in Belding, just south of Woodview Elementary School.
“It was recommended at a Facilities Use Committee meeting for us to consider the possibility of keeping this facility open as a community education building,” she said.
Reasons for the change to keep the building, according to Shriver, include the need for community education programs’ facility use spaces to avoid double bookings in other school buildings, a common and consistent location for monthly board meetings and a desire to relocate the Adult Education Program into one consistent location instead of in two different buildings.
Shriver said the district’s technology department would also continue to stay in the building.
School board member Scott McNeal, who is also a member of the Belding Recreation Board, said discussions at the city level have included a desire to create a City Recreation Department, which could possibly share space in the building.
“The city right now, financially, isn’t jumping around high-fiving, but there is some talk and activity about creating a recreation department and having a building for it,” he said. “This could be a hub shared between the school and the city. There’s a push for it and we are excited about that.”
Shriver said that if the Orchard building were to close at the end of the school year as previously planned, there will still be operational funds to maintain the building for heat/electric and grounds. If the building were to stay open and in use, there also would be bond funds used to cover the cost of the front entrance security system.
Administration offices will be relocated to Belding High School, as previously planned, but board and committee meetings will continue to be held at the Administration Building as they are currently.