Voters approve school proposal 941 to 800 on Tuesday

May 3 election features 19 percent overall voter turnout, according to Crawford County election website
Crawford AuSable School District voters approved a $21 million bond proposal during the election on Tuesday, May 3, to pay for improvements at Grayling Middle School, Grayling High School, and Grayling Elementary School.
Overall, according to Crawford County’s election results website, voters approved the proposal by a tally of 941 to 800.
The request did not receive a majority of yes votes in all precincts. According to election results posted by Crawford County, Beaver Creek Township (Precinct One) voters posted the highest turnout rate at 36 percent and had 133 no votes to 67 yes votes. The votes were close in Precinct Two (Frederic Township, Maple Forest Township, Otsego Lake Township) with 117 no votes and 113 yes votes (12 percent turnout). Grayling Charter Township (Precinct Three) voters approved the proposal 556 to 407 with 21 percent turnout. Lovells Township (Precinct Four) posted 69 no votes and 61 yes votes with 21 percent voter turnout. The City of Grayling (Precinct Five) had 116 yes votes to 61 no votes with turnout at 12 percent. Bear Lake Township (Precinct Six) came out in favor of the proposal at 28 to 13 with 18 percent voter turnout.
Overall voter turnout for the local May 3 election was listed at 19 percent with 1,744 out of 9,422 registered voters casting ballots, according to Crawford County’s election results website.
Polls closed at 8 p.m. and final results were posted to the county’s election website at approximately 10 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3.
Crawford AuSable School District Superintendent Justin Gluesing said the “majority of the bond funds would be for the projects at the middle school,” but the proposal also includes improvements for Grayling High School and Grayling Middle School.
The ballot language: “Shall Crawford AuSable School District, Crawford, Otsego and Kalkaska Counties, Michigan, borrow the sum of not to exceed Twenty-One Million Two Hundred Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ($21,275,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefor, in one or more series, for the purpose of: erecting, completing, remodeling, and equipping and reequipping, school buildings, including an addition to Grayling Middle School, structures and other facilities, and parts of and additions to those facilities, including school security improvements and secure entrances to school buildings; furnishing and refurnishing new and remodeled school buildings; preparing, developing, and improving sites for school buildings, including structures, playgrounds and other facilities; purchasing school buses; and acquiring, installing, and equipping and reequipping school buildings for instructional technology?”
According to district officials, the Grayling Middle School part of the project includes linking the current facility with the district’s green space located on the other side of Ottawa Street, reconfiguring bus and parent traffic to improve safety, building a new front entrance to help connect the new “campus” and improve security, add a new media center, improve the kitchen/cafeteria, create an area for middle school wrestling, and other improvements. 
Gluesing said part of the project – linking the green space and the existing front of the school – was planned before the election. When the City of Grayling agreed to vacate a small portion of Ottawa Street in August of 2021, school district representatives told the city council and city officials that the vacated section would be used regardless of the election outcome. Work on the initial part of the project is still expected to begin this summer, Gluesing said on May 4.
“We do have a few items planned for this summer that were meant to be the first steps toward the middle school campus project. These initial projects involve the removal of the remaining house on the corner of Spruce and Ottawa Street, the movement of the utility lines and poles where needed, and the construction of the bus drop-off area along Chestnut. These items will not be funded by the funds from this election. Rather, these were previously approved, smaller projects by the (Board of Education), as the City of Grayling has authorized the vacating of Ottawa Street between Chestnut Street and Spruce Street.  In light of this, whether or not the election was successful, we felt obligated to move forward with connecting the middle school campus. With the successful election, we can now focus on bringing the full vision for the campus to fruition, along with the other needed projects in the scope of work,” Gluesing said.
“By closing this one-block section of Ottawa Street, we will be able to create a designated bus drop-off area, create a parent drop-off zone separate from bus traffic, improve student/pedestrian traffic/safety on and around our campus, utilize the green space more safely for student classes and other activities, and create a more welcoming space for our community,” Gluesing said prior to the election. “Additionally, our plan is to build a small two-story addition onto the middle school, establishing the ‘front door’ of the building to now face the vacated Ottawa Street. The plans also call for a new parking area off of Spruce Street and within our existing green space.”
Currently, the middle school’s main parking lot and office are located at the back of the building accessible from Ogemaw Street. The school has a small overflow parking lot off of Chestnut Street.
The bond issue will also pay for improvements at the high school and the elementary school.
Some of the planned Grayling Elementary School upgrades include: “Students drop off and pick-up shelter, extended bus loop, outdoor learning and play space improvements, student corridor connector, and student bathroom upgrades,” according to the school district.
Grayling High School planned additions include: “Student robotics classroom, student senate classroom area, bathroom upgrades, auditorium renovations, new storage building, and girl’s locker room renovation,” according to the school district.
“Over the next weeks and months, we will be preparing for the sale of the bonds, as well as working to move forward with our architect and construction manager on the finer details. Major construction is likely a year away, but some of the smaller projects may be able to start sooner,” Gluesing said.
Sandy Moore, Crawford County Clerk/Register of Deeds, said not all absentee ballots reached the voting precincts by 8 p.m. but overall the election “did go well,” and it helped to serve as a beneficial experience for workers as larger elections approach.
“We were done by 10 p.m. This was a great opportunity for the newer clerks and poll workers to conduct a smaller election before we move on to the larger August and November elections. Unfortunately, there are still absentee ballots out there, residents must get them back to the township/city by 8 p.m. election day in order to be counted,” Moore said. “Election years place a large burden on clerks; however, attention to detail is at the forefront and they all completed this task with grace and dignity. We are moving on to August and are better prepared than we have ever been.”
Township clerks reported that the election went well and they had a lot of absentee ballots.
“Everything went great for us,” said Diane Giska, Grayling Charter Township Clerk. “We had no issues. We had 593 absent voter ballots and 370 in person voters for a total of 963. Not a terrific turnout for in person but pretty steady. It did die down in the evening around the dinner hour. I had a great team of inspectors and they did a terrific job. We were finished with all our paperwork and sealing of containers by 8:45 p.m. and were the first jurisdiction to report to the county. I am very fortunate to have such a great team; they are awesome.”
“Everything went very well in Lovells Township. No problems,” said Cynthia Infante-Inman, Lovells Township Clerk.  “We did have a lot of absentee ballots – 61 percent. Hoping midterms go as smoothly.”
“Everything went smooth. My staff was amazing and Sandy Baynham, the Deputy Clerk from Maple Forest, was so helpful. I was so thankful for all of her help and support. At my precinct I also had Maple Forest as well as Otsego Lake. We did have more absentee ballots than actual walk-in  voters,” said Amanda Siwecki, Frederic Township Clerk.
Gluesing, in a letter to the community dated May 4, expressed appreciation to the voters for supporting the endeavor.
“On behalf of the Board of Education, our staff, and the students we serve, I wanted to thank our school community for their support of our bond proposal last night. Please know that we recognize the challenges many in our community are facing with rising gas and grocery prices. While our ask was small, it is still an increase, and your support of our project and the vision for the middle school campus is humbling. We acknowledge the trust you have placed in the district and the responsibility to bring our vision forward to completion,” Gluesing said.


Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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