ROYAL OAK, Mich. - A school bond issue in Royal Oak, a Detroit suburb, has drawn battle lines on both sides. The dispute is over the cost of installing air conditioning in three district schools.

One side, the "Seniors Against New Taxes" is opposing the bond issue, saying that $33 million of the $73.5 million request to fix up schools will go toward air conditioning.

According to a project director who helped put the proposal together, R. Kent Phinney of Kingscott Architecture, Engineering & Interior Design (Kalamazoo, Mich.), the Royal Oak school district will spend a total of $22 million on the HVAC systems, with only one-fifth of that amount going to the addition of air conditioning equipment.

In an interview with the Royal Oak Daily Tribune, Phinney stated, "You're basically just adding two components - cooling piping and cooling coils - to all the mechanicals and ductwork you would be replacing anyway. How much of the HVAC is just air conditioning? We figured that out to be 18-20 percent."

Trustee Frank Tyndell, who is working to defeat the bond, is proposing that the school district should avoid what he figures is a $4 million price tag by changing the school calendar so students aren't in classes until mid-June. That could be done by shortening or eliminating breaks around Christmas and in February.

Tyndell also told the Tribune that problems with hot classrooms could be solved more cheaply by putting portable air conditioners in specific rooms.

The bond issue will be decided by voters in late February.

Publication date: 02/28/2005