SL residents discuss school bond proposal

Krystle Wagner • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:24 PM

Spring Lake Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Furton presented information about the district’s proposed $59.8 million bond to more than 60 community members and district staff Wednesday night at Barber School. The district will host another presentation at noon today at Spring Lake District Library.

The district wants voters to consider a bond that would fund a new elementary school campus; enhance district technology; make upgrades at the intermediate/middle school, high school and other district buildings for energy efficiency; and replace furniture and purchase new buses.

The bond would be paid over 30 years. It would raise the district’s debt levy to 7 mills, an increase of 0.569 mills. The owner of a $120,000 home would see an increase of $34 a year in property taxes.

Heidi Heinz, a mother of two Spring Lake students, said she’s proud of the district, but her biggest concern about the bond proposal is putting Jeffers and Holmes elementary schools under one roof.

Heinz, whose child attends Jeffers, wondered how many students would be in the proposed school, which would be for students in grades K-4.

“This is where I feel it loses its intimate feel,” she said.

Furton said about 890 students are enrolled in the two schools, but the design would create two wings for K through 4 students with shared common spaces.

He said “design will create that intimate feel,” but it’s the staff that will continue to deliver the warm and welcome feeling as they have been.

Furton said board members haven’t visited schools with similar configurations, but noted that students would be with the same staff and classroom settings as they are used to, but in one building.

"They're not going to be in a building that's overwhelming in size," he said.

Mary Cotterall, a Holmes Elementary School teacher, has been with the district for 22 years and said the new elementary school would be two separate schools on one property under one roof, with same staff maintaining the same beliefs about what's best for students.

"We will not compromise that because that's who we are," she said.

Spring Lake Township resident Connie Widdis said she wanted to see one bond proposal that addressed the needs of students and teachers in the district, so the community can be united.

To read more of this story, see today's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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