Purchase of digital sign at Central Montcalm Public Schools put on hold

By Lori Hansen • Last Updated 10:41 am on Friday, September 20, 2013

STANTON — More than three years ago, the Central Montcalm Board of Education voted to purchase a digitalized sign to be installed in front of the high school, however, the issue is still unsettled due to current financial constraints.

The original vote was passed in May 2010, but the sign was never purchased. Central Montcalm Public School’s board of education, which met Thursday, decided, by a vote of 7-0, to rescind the 2010 decision and put the idea of installing a digital sign at the high school on the shelf for now.

In a previous board meeting, longtime board member Bill Simpson brought to the board’s attention that it had approved the purchase and installation of a digitalized sign to replace the vinyl letter sign currently in place.

“We have 1,750 kids and parents and staff that drive past that sign every day. People are not changing the letters and sometimes the events posted are two or three days old,” said Simpson, the board’s vice president, during the board’s August meeting. “A digital sign could be changed from the office, and I would like the board to once again pursue it.”

Board members then discussed how the cost of the sign would aid in advancing learning, how the board can justify cutting slots in the Early College program because of funding, yet invest in a sign, and if there was a statue of limitations on following through with a previous board’s decision.

Superintendent Kristi Teall has researched the issue and looked at the vote from 2010.

“In a nutshell, there is no statute of limitations, but six years after a motion has been passed, it can be challenged,” Teall said.

“Since we have not reached the six-year mark yet, we needed to proceed to see if the original organization still stood behind their quote (for the price of the sign).

The vendor has said ‘no’ and so the motion has become invalidated, and we would need to rescind it.”

In light of Teall’s update, the board voted 7-0 to rescind the motion set three years ago and will not pursue a digitalized sign for the high school at this time.

Simpson, along with board member Mike Barnwell, both voiced opinions that the issue should be revived.

“I’d like to see us pursue it,” said Barnwell. “Right now, 90 percent of what is up on the sign is like a week-and-a-half old.”

But board member Bill Collins asked: “Why blame the sign if the information isn’t current? That is not a sign problem, but a personnel problem.”

Board members then discussed other methods, such as texting programs like Remind101 and email programs such as AlertNow that are used to keep parents and students up to date on school-related news.

“Some of us don’t do texting to get the latest updates, and yet drive by that sign every day,” Simpson said.

For now, the board should wait before pursuing such a costly endeavor, said board member Jim Rogers.

“I think the idea of an electronic sign is good, but if we wait until spring, when we are more certain of our budget, would be better,” he said.
Collins agreed.

“Right now is not a good time,” Collins said. “There are things we need more than a sign.”

The board then approved unanimously to have the superintendent evaluate the current cost of a digitalized sign and come back to the February 2014 meeting with a quote.

The board will then re-evaluate the possible purchase.

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