The Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education voted 4-3 to reject an existing plan to establish a school clinic at Grosse Pointe North High School.
The previous board approved the clinic last year. From a pool of money known as the sinking fund, the district only needs about $1 million in construction costs, while operating costs are covered by the state and other grants.
But the new board majority argued the project was unnecessary and a potentially illegal use of sinking fund money — despite the district’s legal counsel vehemently arguing it was perfectly legal. The new majority wants to suspend the program and pursue other options.
Grosse Pointe resident Tom Peck agrees. He said no one doubted that the school needed more medical services, “but we also need to look at the big picture, is this the best way to pay for construction? A fully informed decision?” he asked.
But the delayed vote effectively kills the project because the district won’t be able to meet the terms of the grant while construction stalls.
Board member David Brumbaugh voted against the resolution to stop the project. A school board at Grosse Pointe North High School has come up with a creative way to get services the school desperately needs, he said.
“Who is going to provide us with similar funding in the future knowing how difficult it is to work with this school district?” Brumbo said. “If we were to vote no here tonight, what incentive would we give to people in this area and this community doing this kind of unpaid work here again?”
The Grosse Pointe district will also now lose at least $150,000 from its general fund for breaching contracts with the district’s project partner Corewell Health and other contractors.
Grosse Pointe is one of several school districts and other local governments across the state where the new conservative majority is moving quickly on their agenda, sometimes making sweeping policy changes.