Dear Editor,

In the spring of both 2018 and 2019, the Alpena School District asked the voters of the district to pass a millage increase to build a new facility. Both times our voters said no. During the campaign for this millage increase, there was information given to our community that was incorrect. Since this keeps being brought back up even by local news stories I feel it's time to clear the air.

When the 2018 millage failed, we received a form letter from the State Department. The letter listed the options the state had for responding to the failed millage. It is the same letter sent to any school which asks for and does not get a millage increase. When the board was given this letter, I asked how many times the state had ever taken over or consolidated a school over a failed millage. The answer was “never."

When the 2019 millage failed, I, along with the superintendent, met with the head of the Facilities Department in Little Rock. He told us "your voters don't want a millage increase; leave them alone. I have been there several times and you have a good campus and good buildings. My own kids could attend school there in those buildings. Make some improvements, do some upgrades and have school. All of your buildings are structurally sound." 

He recommended we hire an engineer to look over things and make suggestions on the improvement we might make. The engineer that was contracted felt the old gym might be unsafe so the doors were locked. I worked for 40 years in the construction business and I had a problem with his findings. I contacted a local commercial building company, Larry Davis Construction. The jobs manager met with me, the superintendent, and maintenance to inspect the gym. We found no structural problems. The company engineer came and made yet another inspection with the same result. He put his seal on the report stating the building is sound and safe. The jobs manager and I agreed if a storm was coming, we would get in the old gym. Davis Construction did all of this for our district free of charge. That's what local people do and why I am always pushing to use and hire local people.

All this being said, we were never in danger of losing our school. 

If that were ever truly the case, I know the district voters would pull together and do what was needed.

Kenny Underdown,

Alpena School Board president 

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