SL residents discuss school bond proposal

In a push toward Election Day, Spring Lake school officials have worked to provide community members with information about the district’s bond proposal.
Krystle Wagner
Oct 31, 2013


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.



The choice is easy. $60,000,000 is peanuts when it comes to doing what is right for our kids. I just wish they would have been more bold. A 120,000,000 proposal would have shown real care for our kids. In any case, all responsible citizens should vote YES on this proposal. It is time for world class athletic fields to match our world class aquatic center. A new bus garage would also help us to class up our facilities as well. Thanks to the superintendent and staff for volunteering so much time to this effort.


I can only hope your comment is sarcasm. As a responsible citizen I don't believe we need this amount of debt and I also think it is very arrogant that only one proposal is offered.


gee, you took the words right out of my mouth deeg! Thanks!


Let's go for at least two hundred million at least, I know our senior citizens can easily afford it, and our middle class blue collar workers have not seen a raise in two years.
The Village of Spring Lake only pays taxes to "two" different taxing municipalities, and our property taxes are so extremely low. Not even considering the Spring Lake Township dreams for a new fire department building, which we all know is just another step toward getting a new boy toy, like a ladder truck. Because Ferrysburg, and Grand Haven has one, so Spring Lake needs one too!
Come on people, wake-up, the economy and the future is not that optimistic, because we are heading straight toward another economic storm and this one will be stronger. Let's not risk our future on todays big dreams, and on the back of those who are working or retired who are today already being financially spread thin.
Vote today, for tomorrow you will surely pay.


My reasons for voting NO

NO fixed bond rate
NO guarantee we will receive Gov. Snyder's funds
NO walk-ability for schools
NO reducing the debt
NO exact cost on the entire project


The Bond rate is fixed....the millage could vary (as it does with current debt).

The District is guaranteed to get the SBLF funds.

It was stated last night that currently 12 students walk to Holmes - how big a deal is 'walkability' compared to class size?

Yup, the debt does increase - while the operational costs go down.

The cost of this project is proportionately just as 'exact' as when I built my last home. Construction costs do vary but we know the amount the district cannot exceed with this proposal.

And, I'm finding a new travel agent & agency.


Winston - At least I am proud to use my name and not go by an alias. Why would you attack a business that pays taxes in the community. I guess you have not heard "Support Local Businesses".


Do you really think that the millage is going to reduce class size? This is why our political system is so screwed one really takes the time to understand the ramifications of their decisions. Mr. Furton could have told people that if the millage passes it will rain gumdrops...and some people would have put buckets in their front yards on election day.

I have determined that many people have become victim to "Furton Math." Furton Math is simple...Mr. Furton picks an arbitrary number and inserts it into his discussion simply to hit his point home.

12 - the number of students that walk to Holmes. Are you kidding me!?!? Anyone who buys into this logic is ridiculous. I'm guessing Mr. Furton sat in his car for 5 minutes to count this himself...or he conducted a survey in which he received a 25% response rate...yes these are assumptions and a play on point.

50 vs. 60 - Furton Math would tell you that these two number are EXTREMELY far apart as these are the ages of the ES buildings vs. the IS/MS. Apparently you cannot maintain at 60, but at 50 we are good for another 40-50 years...and we won't account for the additions to the buildings that took place as little as 6 years ago!

60,000,000 - This is a VERY SMALL number in Furton Math. Let's just toss this money around, improve EVERYTHING in our district all at once, and not take into account that upgrades will still have to take place for transportation, technology, athletics, etc. yet we will STILL be paying for this long after the computer has been tossed and the new buses have been converted into NASCAR motorhomes.

1 - Apparently this is as high as you need to count in Furton Math because this is number of proposals on the ballot next week. This project could have EASILY been divided into smaller amounts to allow for greater community input at the polls, which according to Furton is what SL wanted...hmmm it looks like we have a little confusion here.

2 - MY Math - The number of letters you need to know to understand how to vote on this proposal... N O.

I'm sorry for my satirical rant, however the SL board and Mr. Furton are playing "keeping up with the Joneses" and using our students as pawns. There are MANY MANY more feasible ways to go about this without adding an exorbitant amount of money to taxpayer debt. I for one think that approving this millage will forever change the layout of SL in a very negative way. Please consider the community and history developed as well in your vote and tell the board to present something feasible and appropriate for SL. We are a great community with an AMAZING teaching staff and we continue to be at the top of the charts in scores. These new additions are not going to change that. This staff could have a barn to teach out of and scores would still be amazing. World class stadiums are not necessary and a ridiculous use of money.


I guarantee you that many more students walk to school then the number (15), because anyone can look at the real numbers from the annual ride and/or walk to school program that is held yearly in the Village of Spring Lake.
Thanks to the very successful federal sidewalk grants that did not cost the public anything, that the Village Council was successful in openly competing for, and obtaining. Having a public school within walking distance and located in the Village is a positive thing for promoting growth and the community.
In the past few years, numerous strong public letters of support and public communications between both the school administration and the Village, for keeping the two public identities, United and strong for the betterment of the students, school and the community future were obvious.
Go Vote.


The number of students who walk came from the Principals of the elementary schools. So are you disputing the Principals word?

Big Swed

The Tribune killed off Big Swed, but I am back. I note the total bond debt will be around $87,375,000 and that does not include interest and the actual amount our kids or grandchildren will be expected to pay to retire that 30 year debt. I reviewed the Yes Teams revision of the S.L. Bond website and appreciate the work they have done, and the information update that responded to some of my previous questions. Another reader previously pointed out the age (100 plus years) of schools in Europe that still provide the background for an excellent education. Until I see a detailed breakdown of the cost of replacement boilers, windows, electrical, technology updates, security updates on the "OLD elementary buildings" to compare with the proposed single replacement building, I can not support a YES vote. I agree with many readers that suggest an alternate less expensive proposal.


As a S.L. Graduate and resident, I am proud of the schools. I received a great education there 20+ years ago, my children received a great education there, and I hope that my Grandchildren get to have the same experience we did. There is absolutely nothing wrong with upgrading and upkeeping what we have now. There is no need for everything they are wanting to do. I wish they would have split up the proposal some more as far as one for upgrades, one for the new campus, etc. The board would have had a chance to get my "Yes" vote for what I felt was needed most. As the proposal is right now, I also cannot support a yes vote.


I support the Bond proposal. The operating cost on old buildings are extremely high. The citizens paid for the school that you were educated in, now it's your turn to do the same to build a new school and upgrade facilities that are need now for the 21st century. These schools were not designed to last forever, they need to be replaced. Why not do it now? You know costs are just going to increase over time. We have a Superintendent who is willing to take on this enormous task, and the children will benefit. Aren't you willing to invest in the children's education and learning experience? We are and that is why we are voting YES.


Regardless of how you are going to vote, it is obviously important that we all get out and vote. I am expecting a high turnout and a close vote so no doubt this is one of those elections where every vote really does matter.

Also, whether your side wins or not lets be adults after the election. There is no need to rub it in if your side wins or complain if your side lost. Let the vote speak for itself and move on.


Agree 100%.


Really...when you personally attach me. Go Figure. Again, I am proud to use my name


Why is walkability to school so important? A high majority of kids do not walk and are fine. I'm guessing if something ever happened to one of these walkers there would be outrage and citizens demanding no kid should have to walk.

The people using the don't pass on the debt to our kids argument, does not make sense to me. They are going to be paying one way or another. These schools need to be replaced or greatly updated in the near future. How long do you think we can hold off on doing nothing to the schools. Either your kids or your grand kids will be paying for it. If you are really concerned about the fiscal well being, it would probably be better to pass it now and help start paying it off so your kids can enjoy the school and have less to pay when they are older.

Also the "I learned fine in that building 30+ years ago" logic also confuses me. 30+ years ago that building was in much better shape and much newer.


So in 30 yrs after this new building is "old" do we replace it with a brand new building again? Maybe since my house is over 100 yrs old I shouldn't be raising my family in it. I must have been wasting my money maintaining it. I wish someone would have clued me in on this before we did the work, then I could have just went and built a new house instead.


Well said, I just replaced the roof on my home that was build in 1925...I guess I should have torn it down and replaced it


My house survived the Village fire and is well over a hundred years old, and sure I have spent funds keeping it updated and safe. But I guess using this logic most of the homes in the village should be pulverize to the ground. NOPE.
I too would have like to seen the proposals more divided as to needs, so that we could vote on items that we feel are more reasonable and financial practical. But I guess if you cannot afford to keep your property because of ever increasing taxes, then we will not need larger and newer schools, problem solved. Go vote...please.


Not the same thing at all. I was saying it's not a good reason to vote against the bond issue.
Would you buy a house because someone told you; 30 years ago, when I was 10, I was in that house and it was pretty good, so i am sure it is fine now.

Big Swed

Members of our Legislative bodies were considering full-time school and noted the need for air coolers if we go to 12 month school schedules. If the bond passes we can ask for reimbursement on the new cooling system and all of the other new costs associated with 12 months of school or be forced to lay-off more staff. What the hell, it is only our money although it will be worth less as our total national debt increases.


And you obviously paid attention to only what you wanted to with my statement. I stated that I cannot support it as written and I wish that they would have broken it up. You didn't see that I wrote that both of my children recently graduated and they are outstanding citizens. I agree with you wholeheartedly that things are needed but I don't at all agree that all of what is proposed is needed. Which is the reason why I will vote it down this time around. My feeling is that maybe they will put more thought into it next time around. Now, whether it passes or not, I believe in the power of the people. If it passes, then that is what the majority wanted and I will never argue against that or hold it over someones head. I am an adult that still believes in democracy. I also believe in freedom of speech and respect your right to the same. I will voice my opinion without being asked and I will gladly debate as to why I believe I am correct without degrading you in any way.

To answer directly to Boater, yes I am willing to invest in our children's future. I however don't believe that this is the best deal. Some of the numbers don't make any sense and if in fact those are true estimates for upgrades then they need to get more quotes.'

To BTLA, I also agree with you on upkeep. Something does need to be done and no matter what the debt will be passed to our children. I believe thought that the debt can be minimized and still get what they need. This goes with the adages, "don't live above your means" and "learn to do more with less". If you have less you learn how to make it work, if you don't, you fail.

Big Swed

P.S.: The good citizens of Detroit love their children as much as we do, and they continued to pass large bond proposals to expand and provide all their children with a great education. A number of those schools are empty with a large bond debt still owed by generous voters that did not keep an eye on the budget, BUT that will never happen in good old Spring Lake. The Tri-cities area of course has a growing number of high paying jobs that will enable our citizens to work and buy homes here and pay the bond off early

Big Swed

FINAL p.s. The concerns about saving maintenance/housekeeping costs are interesting. They represent our own job maintenance program and provide a valuable return to the school system and employees living in the community. However, the jobs created by the proposed bond building project represent tax dollars that will be spent on building materials; concrete, electrical, roofing, etc. A large portion of those dollars will leave the community in payroll costs unless we somehow wise up and hire local contractors.


I'm troubled the school board just wants us to roll over and hand them a pot of gold to do with as they please. There are only artist conceptual drawings and rough estimates. There are no construction prints, competitive bids, traffic studies, etc. As in the comment above, give us breakdown proposals with solid paperwork to back them up and we'll do our duty to approve or disapprove those bonds. We're proud of our school system and teachers and want to give them the tools they need, but it has to make sense for the Spring Lake Village and Township community. Also, Just curious if Rob had company for coffee this morning?


Actually I would like to see the numbers they say it will cost to up date the schools we have now. Has anyone seen the numbers on paper yet??


I have heard and read several comments regarding how teachers can teach the way they have been teaching, or comments like it was fine when I went to school. One big realization no one has been talking about and maybe it is because they don't have to deal with it first hand is the fact that the we are, including most of the United States is behind in technological advances and how we teach. If you think a smart phone and tablet is for checking Facebook, email and playing games, you have not even scratched the surface. I work seamlessly with kids [and I say kids cause they are half my age] in the Philippines and Brazil. They get it. They were taught early on how to use these powerful tools to make a living. The way we work and make a life IS changing and IS already here. If we want our kids to be successful, they will need to learn at an early age to be competitive in a Global Economy. It is not ok to think and believe that they will learn it in college, or after their first job. They need the leg up as soon as we can give it.

No longer are the jobs that you can graduate from high school, work in a factory, and retire with a pension. Brick & Mortar offices will become less scarce as well. Your office will be wherever you are sitting. The last report I received regarding Gen Y and Gen Z is less than comforting in how they will need to navigate the future, mostly because it is not the way I grew up. The more we can empower them, the better contributor to the community they will be.

Change, it is a scary thing for many people.


I think alot of us that vote no are voting no for all the ridiculous stuff they are asking for. I dont think there is one person that would say no to technology. We have a strong community and if they were asking for technology, I know the community would come through. But the school is asking for things that they want and not need. What happens when the technology they would get with this bond is out dated? Oh, then they would need more but would have to pass another mill. Rome was not built in a day so why do they think SL needs top be?


I know of more than a dozen people that said "no" to technology directly. They don't understand why it is necessary and you can read that in some of the other posts if you want to do some digging.

It's also funny how some feel things are a want and not a need. A want vs a need is a matter of perspective. Some people are minimalist and some are extravagant. I see Spring Lake in the middle. It's not a matter of right or wrong, it's all in perspective.

The Rome comment is very random and non-applicable. Construction these days is not the same as it was 3000 years ago [depending if you go by the legend account when Troy was captured in 1182BC]. How about comparing it to something more modern and a single structure like The Grand Hotel that was built in 93 days.



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