Durand do-over

A recount petition has been filed for the election results of Durand Area Schools’ 30-year, $28-million bond proposal, which passed by only two votes Aug. 4.

DURAND — A recount of the Aug. 4 election result for Durand Area Schools bond proposal, prompted by a resident’s petition, will move forward next week, the Shiawassee County Clerk’s office said Thursday.

Wednesday, Michigan voting districts were given the go-ahead by the state Bureau of Elections to begin recounting contested election results. The local recount — of in-person and absentee ballots — will be conducted by the Shiawassee County Board of Canvassers at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Vernon Township Hall, 6801 S. Durand Road.

“From Durand’s perspective, we want the right and accurate and valid election results,” Durand schools Superintendent Craig McCrumb said. “There has to be integrity in the process; otherwise, it builds mistrust among the public.”

The recount must be attended by the clerk or deputy clerk for Vernon Township, a representative of the county board of canvassers, and the county clerk and elections clerk.

McCrumb said he will personally represent the Durand school district at the recount. State law provides that the process be open to the public.

The recount was spurred by a Gaines Township resident’s petition, which cited potential errors possibly enabling residents from outside the school district to vote for the bond proposal by absentee ballot.

On Aug. 4, the school district’s $28-million bond proposal passed by a mere two votes, 1,468 to 1,466. Durand’s second proposal on the same ballot, to renovate the football stadium, failed 1,784 to 1,104.

The Durand school district spans parts of both Shiawassee and Genesee counties. The recount petition, filed Aug. 17 by Gaines Township resident Axel Bowden, claims possible errors were committed in Vernon Township Precinct 2, where the main bond proposal passed by 26 votes, 156-130.

Bowden did not respond to The Argus-Press’ request for comment Thursday.

In his petition filing, Bowden wrote: “I believe in good faith that error and wrongdoing, not fraud, was committed and non-Durand school district residents were mailed absentee ballots containing two ballot proposals for the Durand school district. There has been talk among the community that as little as five and as many as fifty electors received and voted absentee with the wrong ballot. With a margin of only two votes deciding the election it is easy to see the potential problem of having a valid election with accurate results to maintain the public’s trust and confidence in the electoral process.”

If the election results stand, the Durand school bond — developed by a citizens committee — will fund the addition of an auxiliary gym, a 599-seat auditorium, and a three-classroom addition to Robert Kerr Elementary, as well as district-wide upgrades and repairs.

If approved, the bond will cost the owner of a home with a taxable value of $50,000 about $62 per year.

Upgrades under the Durand bond initiative include:

  • The construction of an auxiliary gym/practice facility north of Robert Kerr Elementary, featuring a competition-sized court, a weight room and an indoor track
  • The construction of a 599-seat auditorium west of the high school gymnasium
  • A three-classroom addition at Robert Kerr Elementary, including a specialized Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) lab for students
  • The conversion of existing classroom space into STEM labs at the middle school and high school
  • The installation of air-conditioning at both Bertha Neal and Robert Kerr Elementary
  • Updated lighting, ceilings, cabinetry and flooring at Bertha Neal and Robert Kerr Elementary (as needed)
  • A new boiler at the middle school
  • Air-conditioning control work at the middle school and high school
  • Upgrades to computer technology
  • Resurfacing of the high school track (pending an evaluation)
  • District-wide phone system upgrades to become 911 compliant by 2021
  • Updating all facilities to become ADA compliant

The second initiative would have financed replacing the grass at Roundhouse Stadium with synthetic turf, a $1.6-million price tag over 30 years. The cost to homeowners would have been about $12 per year.

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