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Grosse Pointe school board votes to back out of school health clinic deal

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GPPSS
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Grosse Pointe North High School

By a 4-3 vote, the Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education has downed an already-existing plan to build a school-based clinic at Grosse Pointe North High School.

A prior board approved the clinic last year. It would have cost the district only about $1 million in construction costs from a pool of money called the sinking fund, with operating costs covered by state and other grants.

But a new board majority argued the project was unnecessary, and possibly an illegal use of sinking fund dollars — though the school district’s legal counsel vehemently argued that it was entirely legal. The new majority wanted to put the plan on pause and pursue other options.

Grosse Pointe resident Tom Peck agreed. He said no one doubts the need for more health services in schools, “but we also need to look at the bigger picture of, is this the best way to pay for this construction and what is the harm in waiting to make sure we have made a fully informed decision?” he asked.

But this vote to delay effectively kills the project, because the district won’t be able to meet the grant terms with construction stalled.

Board member David Brumbaugh voted no on the resolution to stop the project. He said a school committee at Grosse Pointe North High School came up with a creative way to get much-needed services in the schools.

“Who would offer us a similar grant in the future knowing how difficult it’s been to work with this school district?” Brumbaugh said. “What incentive are we offering people in this district and this community to do this kind of unpaid work here again if we vote no here tonight?”

Reneging on the contract with Corewell Health, the district’s partner in the project, and other contractors will now also cost the Grosse Pointe district at least $150,000 from its general fund.

Grosse Pointe is one of several school districts and other local governments statewide where new conservative majorities are taking quick action on their agendas, sometimes with sweeping changes in policy.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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