MAPS Vision Plan


In May of 2021, the Manistee Community voted to support the MAPS Vision Plan.  With the bond passed, we are now able to execute on our plans for the renovation and expansion of the Kennedy Elementary building, the new middle school gym at MMHS, the demolition of the 1927 high school, and a reimagined future for the Jefferson Elementary property.

We are committed to communicating with you throughout the process.  Updates will be provided on this page as the project progresses.

Exteririo of Kennedy Elementary

Our community’s recognition of the importance of this bond initiative is greatly appreciated.  Quality educational resources are a vital component to our economic development efforts and this project shows our community’s commitment to our students and the future of education in Manistee.

Ask Ron

Below you will find answers to questions that have been asked of our Superintendent, Ron Stoneman about the MAPS Vision Plan. Have a question about the plan for our district facilities? Please don’t hesitate to submit your questions for Ron following the link below.

There are a lot of variables with a project of this scale, therefore anything outlined below is subject to change as the project progresses. MAPS will continue to provide updates regarding project status on this website.

Plan Implementation 

What did the bond language include?

The Bonding Proposal is shown in full below. The language is presented following the parameters set forth by the Department of Treasury.



Shall Manistee Area Public Schools, Manistee and Mason Counties, Michigan, borrow the sum of not to exceed Thirty Million Eight Hundred Fifty-Five Thousand Dollars ($30,855,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefor, for the purpose of:

erecting, furnishing, and equipping additions to school buildings; remodeling, furnishing and refurnishing, and equipping and re-equipping school buildings; acquiring, installing, equipping and re-equipping school buildings for instructional technology; and preparing, developing, improving and equipping a playground and sites?

The following is for informational purposes only:

The estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2021, under current law, is 2.65 mills ($2.65 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation). The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding, exclusive of any refunding, is twenty-five (25) years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 2.96 mills ($2.96 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).

The school district does not expect to borrow from the State to pay debt service on the bonds. The total amount of qualified bonds currently outstanding is $7,720,000. The total amount of qualified loans currently outstanding is $0. The estimated computed millage rate may change based on changes in certain circumstances.

(Pursuant to State law, expenditure of bond proceeds must be audited and the proceeds cannot be used for repair or maintenance costs, teacher, administrator or employee salaries, or other operating expenses.)

Will the 1927 building be torn down?

As you will see on our Facilities History timeline, the 1927 high school was proposed for demolition in both the 1997 and 1998 bond proposals, both of which failed. The 1999, bond proposal, which was passed to build the current high school, did not include the removal of the 1927 building.  Again, in 2011 and 2012, bond proposals included the demolition of this building, however neither of those proposals passed.

Because the May 2021 bond passed, the 1927 building is now slated for demolition.  This building will be removed to make room for an addition to the current Kennedy Elementary building once the architectural plans are approved and construction is ready to begin.

The 1927 high school building remains standing today because it houses an elevator in a shared space with Kennedy Elementary that provides accessibility to upper and lower floors for students and staff. The elevator positioned in the connector to Kennedy will remain operational until the new elevator is licensed and functional.

A bid was accepted for the demolition and removal of the 1927 building and it was removed in the fall of 2022.

As a provision of the contract for building demolition, items for removal from the building were identified for coordination of appropriate removal/remediation during the demolition process. Asbestos abatement of the building occurred previously in 2012 and an environmental report was provided.

All materials were demolished and broken into manageable sizes, loaded on trucks and hauled off site.

All appropriate precautions and requirements were reviewed and adhered to for ensuring safety during the demolition and disposal process.


Will the students still be at Kennedy when the building is being renovated?

A plan was executed to relocate our students during the construction phase of our MAPS Vision Plan. Our priority in creating this plan was to keep our students and staff together by building, which we were able to accomplish.

MAPS Pre-School & GSRP Students

Licensed classroom space and a play area has been created for our youngest learners at our Jefferson Elementary building for the 2023-24 school year.

Grade 3 through Grade 5

Renovations have been made for a temporary Kennedy Elementary location for grades 3 through 5 at the Madison Community Learning Center. They will remain at this location for the next two school years as the new consolidated elementary is under construction.

Building updates included:

  • Driveway resurfacing and parking lot expansion
  • New roof
  • Updated HVAC, lighting, and technology
  • Playground and grass improvements for a practice field
  • Walls and doors where needed to create right-sized learning spaces
  • Painting

We thank you for your cooperation during this transition, the rewards for your patience will be great when we are able to all come together in our new elementary building.

When will the Jefferson building be torn down?

Jefferson Elementary will remain fully functional while the Kennedy Elementary building is being renovated.  The demolition can occur once the Kennedy consolidation is complete and students can be relocated to the new building. The current timeline suggests that demolition may occur in 2025, but will be dependent upon the finalization of the consolidated elementary.

Work will also continue with input from community stakeholders to formalize a recommendation for the Board of Education for a future for the Jefferson property once the Kennedy consolidation is complete and the Jefferson Elementary building is removed.  Ideas for this property include: a walking path, practice field/recreation space, a learning garden, and/or single-family housing.

When will the students be consolidated to Manistee Elementary?

The aim is to potentially have the renovated Manistee Elementary building occupied by fall of 2025.

Will the staff have input regarding the project elements?

Representatives from the architectural and engineering firm, Tower Pinkster, has held several staff meetings over the last year to discuss workflow and design elements of the rooms that serve each grade.  During these meetings, staff members have had an opportunity to share their input with the project designers.  The final plans are now in place and we anticipate construction to begin before the end of 2022.

Will another practice field be planned to replace the practice field at Kennedy?

The MAPS Board Facilities Committee members are reviewing the district’s need for green space that would include practice fields.  They are also reaching out to local community leaders and recreation organizations for a review of current assets and to discuss potential collaborations that would allow for efficient planning of recreational spaces for the community.

Improvements to the high school practice field have also been made, which will facilitate more hours of availability for practice.

The Jefferson Elementary Property

When will the Jefferson building be torn down?

The Jefferson Elementary building will be used for the next 2 school years and a decision regarding the future of the Jefferson property has not yet been made by the Board of Education.

Jefferson Elementary will remain fully functional while the Kennedy Elementary building is being renovated.  The demolition can occur once the Kennedy consolidation is complete, and students can be relocated to the new building. The current timeline suggests that demolition may occur in 2025, but will be dependent upon the finalization of the consolidated elementary.

There are many avenues to explore, while keeping the following in mind:

  • Balancing input from the community with the district’s responsibility to focus financial resources on funding education.
  • Collaborations with City & County officials to keep a pulse on the needs of the community and potential opportunities to meet those needs.
  • Considerations to be discussed moving forward:
    • Building removal funding
    • Michigan Department of Treasury requirements
    • Budgeting for property maintenance expenditures
    • Long-term vision for district’s stake in the property
What was considered for the Jefferson property prior to the bond vote?

In educational materials presented to the community regarding the Jefferson property bond fund allocations indicated the following:

Repurpose Jefferson Elementary Site, with guidance from the Jefferson Neighborhood Advisory Committee:

Demolish 1954 Jefferson Elementary building, green space, residential home sites, and MAPS athletic field considerations are all in discussion  with the committee

More recently reviewed (post-bond):

  • The boundaries and infrastructure of the property through a Spicer Group survey
  • The Together Place, a greenspace plan designed voluntarily by Dr. Gunderson and Mr. Lerum
  • A&E project design alterations for an equitable and money saving plan to meet current market conditions, while maintaining the integrity of the project
  • Alternative funding for the removal of the Jefferson building to allow for reallocation of bund funds to priority projects within the scope of the bond
  • An opportunity to partner with the County Land Bank Authority to acquire the property from the District for future development of single-family home sites
  • Continued feedback from the Jefferson Neighborhood Committee
  • Potential opportunities with Sand’s Park
  • County & City officials discussion regarding need for move-in ready homes to be supportive of community need for the attraction of teachers, nurses, business owners, and service providers
What portion of the bond funds were allocated for the removal of the Jefferson building?

Approximately $400,000 of the bond funds were allocated for the removal of the Jefferson building. The final cost of removal will be determined once we are able to solicit bids, closer to the end phase of the project. No additional funds were allocated for projects specific to the Jefferson property in the bond proposal.

How has the community been engaged in the planning for the future of the Jefferson property?

In January of 2019, A Jefferson neighborhood presentation was hosted, and feedback was collected regarding ideas for the future of the Jefferson property.

Neighborhood feedback points:

  • Adequate parking lot so street parking doesn’t become an issue
  • Be mindful of night lighting and noise
  • Prioritize maintenance and appearance of vacated property
  • Community garden
  • Controlled development of new housing
  • Playground, pavilion, and bathrooms

November 19, 2020: First Jefferson Neighborhood Committee meeting held. Suggestions included:

  • District retaining property as greenspace for practice fields
  • Playground, walking path, or trails
  • Division of property for single family homes to address local housing issues
  • Explore mixed use of space

The meetings of the Jefferson Neighborhood Committee continued throughout the Vision Plan process as we explored the future of this property. In additional meetings with the committee, we explored the possibilities of:

  • A greenspace plan developed by committee members, Dr. Gunderson and Mr. Lerum
  • How to reduce the financial burden of the District
  • Highest and best use of property for the District, neighborhood, and City could be a division of property for the purpose of single-family homesites
  • Potential Sand’s Park opportunities for practice fields

Through exploration with the Jefferson Neighborhood Committee, we learned:

  • The defined the boundaries and infrastructure of the property through a Spicer Group survey
  • Use of bond funds allocated for the removal of the Jefferson building would disallow the sale of the property by the District until that portion of the bond has been paid off
  • Potential for alternative funding for the removal of the building may need to be considered

On May 4th, 2022 another Jefferson Neighborhood forum was held to update the community regarding the progress of the project and some potential options that were being discussed. 

Could the City of Manistee take over the property and maintain it as a park space after the building is removed?

The City is responsible for approximately 180 acres of park and community space, they have communicated that development of additional park space is not considered a current priority.

Why can’t Jefferson Elementary being maintained?

In 2017, a facilities assessment was completed to gain a greater understanding of the immediate and future maintenance needs of all district buildings. We considered the long-range cost to maintain all facilities and how the current configuration would serve our population as it continues to decline.

Enrollment is projected to decrease by more than 30% over the next 20 years. As enrollment declines, so will school funding. The impact of maintaining numerous aging buildings, not operating at capacity, would create a significant financial burden on the district.

What is meant by green space when referring to the Jefferson property?
The term green space has been used to describe the restoration of the ground once the Jefferson Elementary building is removed. The bond scope included allocation of funds to the Jefferson property of approximately $400,000, the estimated cost of removal of the building and site work that would restore the site to open green space or a grassy area. Funding for further development of the property was not allocated in the bond scope.
What are the details of the proposed park plan by Dr. Gunderson and Mr. Lerum?

Summary of Project:

A proposed park space was voluntarily designed by Dr. Gunderson and Mr. Lerum with features including:

  • Space for outdoor learning, physical exercise, and recreation
  • Outdoor laboratory for the study of native plants
  • Existing football/soccer field and playground left as is
  • Existing parking lot is reduced in size
  • A green path, mowed at a width of eight feet, prepared for walking and running
  • A hard surface path connecting the parking lot, the playground, and new tennis courts with a 4-6 feet wide walkway from Elm to Cedar

View Full Plan

When will a decision be made about the future of the Jefferson property?

The demolition of the Jefferson building is not anticipated until the consolidated elementary is complete. The intention is to occupy the building for the next two school years, therefore demolition would likely occur sometime during 2025.

A decision has not yet been made by the Board of Education regarding the future of the Jefferson property.

There are many avenues to explore, while keeping the following in mind:

  • Balancing input from the community with the district’s responsibility to focus financial resources on funding education.
  • Collaborations with City & County officials to keep a pulse on the needs of the community and potential opportunities to meet those needs.
  • Considerations to be discussed moving forward:
    • Building removal funding
    • Michigan Department of Treasury requirements
    • Budgeting for property maintenance expenditures
    • Long-term vision for district’s stake in the property

The Board of Education will continue to review potential considerations and we will continue to communicate with the community as progress is made.


What did the bond sale process entail?

The bond issuance and Treasury approval processes began promptly following the passage of the bond.  

MAPS Board of Education announce the successful sale of the $30.8 million MAPS 2020 Vision Plan Bond in July of 2021.  The bonds were offered to investors through a competitive bidding process.  Prior to the bond sale the credit rating agency, Standard & Poor’s reaffirmed the District’s “A” credit rating on the bonds, citing our proactive management, strong financial performance, strong reserves, strong property values and moderate debt load as key factors associated with the rating. 

Based on market conditions at the time of the sale, the assumption pre-bond was that the interest rate would be 3.75%.  Eight different firms placed bids to purchase the District’s 25-year bonds with the best offer at an interest rate of just 2.08%.

As a result of the favorable bond sale, the cost to property owners will be $9.7 million less over the repayment period.  It is also expected that the initial millage rate for taxpayers will be lower than anticipated.  As we mentioned in the run-up to the bond election, due to the low interest rate environment, we will be able to make important improvements to our schools for the benefit of our students and staff, while at the same time minimizing the tax impact for area property owners.  Many thanks are due to our MAPS family and voters who supported the bond initiative.

Through the diligent work of our staff and Board working together to pass a budget that stays within our available resources we were able to attain financial stability.  Doing so helped to assure investors that we are working to keep our District financially healthy and afforded us this type of savings opportunity. 


Will the project go out for bid?

Following necessary revisions to the plan, the engineering documents were completed by Tower Pinkster and the project was handed off to Christman Company to begin the bidding process for all trade contractors.  The Request for Proposals will be publicly advertised and distributed in accordance with Revised Michigan School Code, allowing all qualified contractors to bid on project elements.  There will also be a concurrent outreach effort to create business opportunity for local contractors, also within compliance with Revised Michigan School Code.

What can school bond funds be used for?

The Michigan Department of Treasury allows for funds obtained through school bonds to be used for long-term expenditures for the purposes of education such as:

  • Construction
  • Remodeling
  • Furnishings
  • Equipment
How has bond refunding impacted our tax rate?

Since the 1999 bond approval, the MAPS District has refinanced the bond debt 3 times, resulting in a decrease in the debt levied (as shown in the chart below).

The most recent effort to reduce the debt came in September of 2020 when the MAPS Board of Education accepted a bid for bond issuance refunding allowing the District to refinance the balance of the 1999 bond ($7,970,000) at an interest rate of .98% (from 4%) which results in a savings over the remainder of the bond life of $1,275,538.

Currently, 2.05 mills is estimated for existing school district debt for the 2021-2022 tax levy based upon the September 2020 refunding, and a millage Increase of 2.65 is proposed for the MAPS Vision Bond, bringing the total mills levied to 4.7.  The millage increase over the 2020-2021 tax year is 2.45 mills from the current levy since the debt levy for the existing debt is projected to decrease by 0.20 mills in the 2020-2021 tax year.

Millage impact chart


Will this plan allow for growth if our population was to boom?
The school buildings are scaled to ensure adequate space for both current and projected enrollment. The new Kennedy Elementary classroom configurations are designed to accommodate 120 per grade, we are currently averaging 79 to 105 students per elementary grade. If, in the future, our district shows growth in enrollment, the property of both the Kennedy building and the MMHS site are both able to accommodate for expansion on all grade levels.
How was the bond proposal plan developed?

The process of establishing a future vision for the Manistee Area Public School district began in the fall of 2016, with an effort to understand both an internal and external perspectives on the needs of our district. From this, it was determined that the district needed a scaled facilities plan that would better meet the physical and financial needs of our district over the next 20 years.

  • Over 120 one-on-one interviews were conducted with community members
  • Community input forums were held
  • Surveys were administered
  • Facility assessment was completed
  • Current enrollment and future projections were assessed


How is the MAPS district addressing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats (SWOT) study results?

MAPS is focused on optimizing student success, is paying attention to the input from our internal and external stakeholders, and has deployed improvement strategies many areas:


  • Recruited a dedicated Curriculum Director in 2019.
  • Developed a professional learning community, which engages a group of educators to share expertise and works collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students.
  • Continued efforts are being made in assessing student progress through work with the NWEA and incorporating data gathered into the creation of student focused solutions for optimizing instruction.


  • Created the Student Safety Advisory Committee (SSAC) a community-based safety initiative team to research, devise, and inform the Board of Education regarding initiatives to improve safety.
  • Identified, applied for, and was awarded grant dollars to improve safety features of district assets. Additional opportunities are being continually sought.
  • Participating regularly in collaborative safety efforts with local law enforcement and neighboring districts to streamline response procedures
  • Leading student group initiatives focused on improved internal culture and positive decision making.
  • Ongoing participation of administration, staff, and students in local efforts and training for safety awareness initiatives.


  • Implemented outreach effort with internal and external stakeholders to better understand the perception, concerns, and desires of our community.
  • Assembled a staff leadership committee to lead internal culture development and proliferation.
  • Launched a new website focused on improvement of communication and robust and easily accessible resources.

Facilities Stewardship

  • Engaging in discussion with internal and external stakeholders to identify a 20-year vision for district facilities plan.
  • Identifying potential bond initiative to fund highest priority facilities needs.
  • Outlining 20-year strategy for maintaining existing district assets.
  • Maintaining the integrity of the operating budget while making infrastructure improvements for creating safe, secure, healthy and energy-efficient school in partnership with Honeywell Initiatives.
Was daycare considered in the Vision Plan?

MAPS offers Pre-K programming for children ages 3 to 5 through Great Starts Learning Program and a tuition based Pre-K program, both currently located at the Jefferson Elementary School location. New offerings include include before and after daycare.

Interest has been expressed for our district to expand services for children 0 to 3. The programming and expense for such a consideration is a major undertaking and requires collaborative efforts of many community organizations to determine the best course of action. MAPS is committed to having these conversations, better understanding the needs of our community, and becoming a partner in a solution to serve young families.

How do our class sizes compare with other districts in our county?

MAPS district averages a 20:1 student to teacher ratio. The other districts within the Manistee Intermediate School District are as follows:

Bear Lake 25:1
Kaleva Norman Dickson 22:1
Onekama 21:1

Have a Question?

Location: 525 Twelfth St, Manistee, MI 49660 | Map
Central Office Hours:
M-F: 8:30am – 4:30pm

Superintendent: Ron Stoneman