SL schools look ahead after bond rejected

Spring Lake school officials are looking ahead following Tuesday’s defeat of a $59.8 million bond proposal.
Krystle Wagner
Nov 7, 2013

Voters rejected the proposal 1,895 to 1,806.

Superintendent Dennis Furton said Wednesday that the school district will analyze the election results, then begin looking at what’s best for their students because the district’s needs and community’s vision haven’t changed.

Furton said they will look at what parts of the rejected bond proposal worked and didn’t work. He thinks it’s more complicated than voters disagreeing with one or two components.

“We’re going to seek to understand the results better,” he said.

The bond funding would have paid for a new elementary school campus; enhanced technology districtwide; made upgrades at the intermediate/middle school, high school and other district buildings for energy efficiency; and replace furniture for energy efficiency. It also would have moved the bus and maintenance garage and all athletic facilities to the high school site.

Although the district hired firms to assist with the process, Furton said they won’t be paid unless a bond is approved.

The majority of voters in four of the five precincts in the Spring Lake school district actually supported the proposal Tuesday.

The bond was favored 259-199 in Spring Lake Township Precinct 2, which includes residents in the north part of the township between Wilson Street and Bridlepath. Precinct 3, which covers the northeastern and middle parts of the township, supported the proposal 507-377. Precincts 5 and 6, which covers the southern and eastern portions of the township, supported it 540-472.

Precinct 4, which covers Spring Lake Village, had 309 votes in favor of the bond and 464 opposed to it.

Spring Lake Township Precinct 1 is in the Grand Haven school district.

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



Will the administration be willing to provide full, complete and real answers to voter questions? Slick presentations and fancy rhetoric are less important than answers to specific questions. If the main goal of the analysis is to WIN future proposals, then maybe parsing and re-parsing the numbers may help.

If in fact there is a desire to create strong support for a great education infrastructure in our community then openness and a willingness to listen and respond (with real answers) will be more important.

Arrogance such as "there is no plan B" or we will figure it out later will not build support among independent, thoughtful voters who are looking out for the overall good of the community instead of simply supporting catchy slogans.


Grand Haven Tribune - Per your numbers listed in the article there are 1,615 yes votes and 1,512 no votes. There are 574 votes missing. Are these absentee votes? If so which Precinct do these fall into. It would be nice to have all 3,701 votes accounted for.

Very interesting at this point, even though all the votes aren't accounted for, that Precinct 4 (Village Voters) were 60% against the bond.


Maybe the missing numbers were the crockery township voters? See, it's like we're invisible. :/


shhhhh.... your comments dont count you are from crockery twp! LOL


I know, right?! Lol!


I seem to be having a problem adding the precinct numbers and getting the same total. Am I the only one with this problem? thanks


I am not in favor of the two elementary school combining. Keep Holmes elementary, remodel for the current technology and hvac needs. Zone Jeffers to pick up more students from Holmes so Holmes has less students and doesn't need the portable classrooms anymore. Rebuild Jeffers much larger to accomodate the growth that is happening out that way. I would support a remodeled possibly moved bus depot and more buses. I love the football field where and how it is it doesn't need to be changed.


Does anyone find it interesting that Mr. Furton states, "the district’s needs and community’s vision haven’t changed." While the district's needs hasn't changed in the schools mind, there were 1,895 people in the community, that at this point, currently don't agree with the vision. It's important to understand that and come back with changes/revisions and as "christopher" stated above, explain things with more detail.

I have no doubt a proposal will pass. This is a temporary setback and in probably 6 months 60 to 70 percent of us will hopefully be excited about the improvements that will be taking place at Spring Lake Public Schools.


Well put. I noticed the same comments from him. I am encouraging anyone on here to contact board members. That is what I am doing. There will be another bond proposal. I want it to be right this time. My concern is that Mr. Furton once again won't listen and we will be at the same place after the next vote. The board members have to listen to community members. They only know what Mr. Furton tells them. We have to give them our perspective as well.


They are missing the Crockery Township votes...I'd like to see that personally


If that is the case then it is 383 no votes and 191 yes votes. That would be almost 67% said no. Sounds like the village and Crockery is where the school district needs to focus.


That was brought up at a meeting but the reply was, at the last election Crockery only had a little over 100 votes so they didnt matter. Yup, my friend asked the question. And I knew how crockery would turn out when I went to vote. Alot of upset people!


I believe the Crockery votes were 191 yes and 383 no.


If Tribune reporter Ms. Wagner was really doing her job like a real journalist, she would conduct some exit polls and get opinions from voters right after casting their votes. Simply calling the township clerk and superintendent for numbers doesn't cut it.

If the school board and superintendent really wanted to find out what voters thought, they would have an open meeting right away, inviting the entire community. That way we could all talk about what didn't work and what should work for the future.

Another "hand picked" exploratory committee will only further divide the voters and instill more distrust in how the school board operates.


What amazes me is that Ferrysburg voted yes to a .5 millage increase for new bikepaths, Grand Rapids voted yes for an even higher millage increase for park/pool updates and Spring Lake residents won't pass a .56 millage for a huge improvement in the school system?!? No plan will satisfy everyone.

It doesn't make fiscal sense to keep 2 elementary schools. Operational costs will be lowered with one school. I agree that it is nice to have a school that is in the village, but how many of the no voters actually actually walk or drive there everyday? The street in front is hazardous during drop off and pick up. There is not enough parking and there are cars parked in yards surrounding the school. I'm not looking forward to the time a student gets injured. And most students don't live within real walking distances from the school!

You can't compare an old house that has a new roof and heater with an old school. Or maybe you can? We lived in a 70 year old home and spent lots of money creating new closets and storage/living spaces for our family of 3. But there is no way we could have stayed there when we became a family of 5. Jeffers and Holmes were not designed to hold this many kids. So even if you put band aids on- new roof, new furnace, new hot water, and more, it is still too crowded. Rooms are too small for the current class sizes. Storage is limited. Take a walk through the halls on any given day and see kids being tested or taught while sitting in the halls. How is that ok?? We need more space and a new building is the way to go. Unfortunately, 1 new one is cheaper than building 2 new ones. Change is hard.

The intermediate/middle schools do need attention, but they are able to be fixed and still used. That is why Mr. Furton did not recommend building a new one.

The fields are not open for the public use because maintenance and upkeep is expensive. Would the public know not to run and tear up the grass after rain or frost? Probably not so the school would have to pay to replace the ruined sod. Do parents of high schoolers and students like driving from the high school to fields across town? Are there enough fields to accommodate all the sports and practices? Not currently. The current location of the stadium does not allow for necessary improvements and expansion. Moving the high school sports fields to the high school does makes sense. Does it have to happen now? Probably not, but we can save money by borrowing it now.

We need to take advantage of the state funds while we can. Spring Lake is a great school system, but it does need to change with the times. Even though change is hard. We need to support the renovations while we have access to cheap money. If you don't like the .5 millage increase for this immense project, are you going to like paying more and getting less in 5 years?

Don't punish the students and teachers because you don't like change. Don't refuse to support the school district because you don't like the members of the board or Mr. Furton. Spring Lake Schools are ranked high and attract people to the area because if what they offer our kids. Our community needs to rally around change and create better environments for the amazing teachers and staff Spring Lake employs. Spring Lake students deserve better. No plan will make everyone happy, but we need to support our kids, the schools and the community to survive and thrive in this economy.


Slow clap, gathering momentum, a little bit faster, and faster, until the whole room is standing up clapping and cheering.


The biggest problem with the whole situation was no flexibility and very little openness. If this was such an IMMEDIATE crisis, then we need to ask why these things were not taken care of as needed ... why did the administration wait until we were in this crisis? Did everything BREAK at once?

Next time everyone needs to be allowed in to the conversation. Remember that many of the "planning" and "visioning" groups were made up of "invited" guests only. These groups and committees need to be open to anyone that is willing to serve ... not just the hand-picked and invited elite.

Spring Lake residents like me love and appreciate our great schools. Loving and caring for our kids should not mean that we carelessly spend money. We need to do things with a plan.

It is funny that a couple of times you said you can not please everyone (paraphrase). The reality is that this plan did not please more than 1/2 of the voters.


'to thrive in this economy'? last i checked, academically SL schools fall in the top ten of the state. my kids are doing well...despite no astroturf

Tri-cities realist

Since there is much less room in the village for new housing, it would seem to make sense to upgrade Holmes, and expand or replace Jeffers, since the Township is where most future expansion will occur.


Most cities, town, villages have "Master Plans". It may be important for Spring Lake Public Schools to have a "Master Plan". It seems many people were just blown away with all the updates and changes that were being proposed. It sort of came out of "left field."

Spring Lake Public Schools probably needs to provide a plan for the next 20 to 30 years so that citizens understand what is going to be needed. The current bond is not going to take care of our needs for the next 30 years. In 5 to 10 years another bond will probably be presented again in regards to technology alone.

It seems like Spring Lake Public Schools has sat around for the last 14 years (since the high school bond) and waited for this "dark cloud" to form over the district in regards to buildings and facilities.

We say, "it's for the kids", so let's have a vision not only for now but for down the road. Then there are no suprises. The district will have made it very clear as to what is the overall plan.

Say no to new taxes

Why is it that a bond issue only has to pass once, but a defeated one can come back again and again?


So when they pass, they should bring the same one up again to get double the money?


Those two existing elementary building are falling apart. To keep putting band-aids on every couple of years doesn't make sense to me. One new building makes the most sense financially. Not sure why we need 2 new baseball & 2 new softball fields? I can see 1 new field for each sport and have the JV's used the existing fields.


The idea with the athletic complex is so that the student athletes can walk out the back of the high school and all practice right after school. The current fields at the middle school would then only be used by the middle school.


Have you really been to these schools? I may not be able to speak to Jeffers, but I visit Holmes at least once a week and it is NOT falling apart. When I go there ... there are teachers teaching ... students learning. It is well heated in the winter when I come in. There is a security buzzer at the front door with an auto-release lock that lets me in. There is a nice lobby area to sit. There is a great gym where kids participate in PE. There is a lot of GREAT education going on. There is a great drop off and pick up area.

Can you tell me what is falling apart exactly at Holmes?

Why are we such a disposable society to say if something is not perfect ... just send it to the landfill. We should be willing to enhance and build on the great things we have ... not always live in discontent. When there are issues that need to be updated such as new technology, they should be placed on a 5 year bond that more closely relates to the life span of the technology that i being purchased. We should not be paying for technology 20 years after is has become obsolete.

Would we ever recommend taking out a 15 year loan on a car?


I'm sure one of the Preferred dealerships in town would be happy to offer you a 15 year loan.


Just because it is possible ... it does not mean that it would be smart.


My point exactly.


If what the administration is saying is true that the schools need to be replaced instead of being repaired then it would probably be beneficial and list all the things that would need to be done to repair the school.

For example: The roof (provide the cost, time line, and the company that provided the quote.) Do the same for the boilers, etc.

Voters could then see for themselves that fixing the schools isn't economical.


I agree ... the presentations seemed to delivered in a style like "you are too dumb to understand the details . . . just trust us with our generalities"


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