MACOMB TOWNSHIP, MI-Hoping to avoid the cost of a third high school, Chippewa Valley school officials are proposing a new school exclusively for ninth-graders on the Dakota High School site on 21 Mile near Heydenreich. At Chippewa Valley High, on 19 Mile in Clinton Township, a renovation of the adjacent Seneca Middle School is planned.

The issue comes in a $168-million bond proposal before voters next month. If approved, part of the Seneca building would be used as a freshman center, and the rest would be renovated for a new preschool center. Seneca was originally built to be Chippewa Valley High until the current high school was built.

The high price of land in the Chippewa Valley district, a byproduct of the area’s booming growth, is a major reason school officials want separate buildings for ninth-graders rather than building a third high school, says interim Superintendent Mark Deldin. “The [school] board bought the Dakota High property in 1989 for $9,000 an acre,” Deldin recalls. “Two years ago, we bought 41 more acres adjacent to it for $100,000 an acre.”

Deldin says Chippewa Valley officials are also aware that many inner-ring suburbs overbuilt schools in the 1950s and 1960s. By the 1970s, schools were being closed from St. Clair Shores to Livonia.

“This [bond issue] plan is designed to [leave us] with two high schools,” Deldin says. “It’s a little bit tough to re-purpose a half-million-square-foot high school building 30 years from now,” when enrollments may drop.

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