‘I am so happy’

SLPS staff, bond committee celebrate win at polls
Krystle Wagner
May 7, 2014

Celebratory cheers filled Old Boys’ Brewhouse on Tuesday night.

More than 40 Spring Lake bond committee members and staff gathered during a celebration as Superintendent Dennis Furton announced that voters approved two bond proposals, which costs a little more than $54 million.

Tuesday’s election was a second chance for the district. In November 2013, voters defeated a nearly $60 million bond proposal by 89 votes.

Spring Lake schools supporters hugged one another and clinked their glasses together in celebration of Tuesday’s success.

“I am so happy!” exclaimed Caroline Highhill, a kindergarten teacher at Holmes Elementary School.

Voters approved Proposal 1 with 2,072 votes in favor and 1,079 against the measure. Proposal 1 includes major renovations and additions to Holmes and Jeffers elementary schools, renovations to the intermediate/middle school, minor upgrades at the high school, technology upgrades throughout the district, and bus purchases. The proposal costs $49.8 million.

Proposal 2 was approved by 593 votes, as 1,869 voters cast ballots in favor and 1,276 cast ballots against it. The proposal addresses improvements to Grabinski Stadium, new multi-purpose turf fields at the high school for lacrosse and soccer, upgrades for the existing practice fields, additional parking, and restrooms at the high school tennis courts. It costs $4.47 million.

The passage of both proposals increases the district’s current debt from 6.33 mills to 7 mills until the bond expires in 2043. The owner of a home valued at $120,000 will pay an extra $40.20 annually.

Spring Lake Middle School Principal Aaron West said Tuesday was a good night for Spring Lake schools and the community. He said Proposal 1’s improvements will be in place for the next 50 years, and Proposal 2 will impact countless extracurricular programs and students.

David Parsons, a member of the bond committee, said he felt “very confident” going into election night because of the efforts made by committee members. Parsons said they went door-to-door to inform voters about the issues on the ballot and the needs facing the district.

After voters defeated a proposal last fall, the district also sought feedback from voters, including their thoughts about the proposal and ways the district could approach future bonds differently.

Spring Lake Township resident Dave Sella said he thought November’s proposal looked out many years, which may have been a little much for the community. He said Tuesday’s proposals were “scaled back” and “more sellable.”

“This is much more tactical,” Sella said.

Sella, who has children at Spring Lake’s middle and high schools, said it’s important to invest and have a good school district because people looking at homes use school districts and neighborhoods to help guide their decisions.

“You can’t underestimate having a good school foundation,” he said.

Mike McSheehy said he liked that the bond was scaled down and split it into two proposals. The Spring Lake Township man, whose children attend Holmes and the middle school, said he thought the older buildings “definitely” needed Proposal 1.

While Judy Ball said the district doesn’t necessarily need state-of-the-art facilities, she does see a need for upgrading the aging buildings. The Spring Lake Township woman said secure entrances stood out the most in the proposal.

Currently, visitors are allowed into the buildings, but they aren’t ushered directly into the office. Ball said they also need larger spaces for some of the classes, such as art and music.

Ball, who is a retired principal and doesn’t work for Spring Lake schools, said she works with a local college to place student teachers in districts, and she’s been to Spring Lake’s schools.

“The need is real,” she said.

School board President Paul Aldridge thanked the voters for their “overwhelming support.”

Aldridge said the next step is for architects, some of whom were present at the celebratory gathering Tuesday night, to work with staff and community members on what the school renovations will look like and how the buildings will function.

Furton declined to comment on Tuesday night because the Tribune took pictures of the group’s celebratory gathering at the public establishment.


Barry Soetoro

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks.

Tri-cities realist

So apparently the superintendent cannot talk to the media if his picture is taken? Or perhaps he had too much bubbly? So many questions, so few answers. Too bad the Trib beer summit didn't coincide with this, we could have answered any questions ourselves. Or am I not invited? ;-)

Barry Soetoro

Everyone is invited to the Beer Summit. It's just a matter of getting Lani to open up her garage to us.

That being said, you know I'm all for loose morals, blah, blah, blah, but the scene of alleged school administrators, teachers and board members celebrating their victory hoisting drinks in a bar just doesn't sit well with me.


I wholeheartedly agree. Some people just have no sense of propriety, decorum, or correctness. I'm talking the moderators here. Sheesh!

The garage has gotten a wee bit dirtier since we last spoke, but the timing could be good, as I just received in my shipment of 'Rick For Michigan' bumper stickers which we could use as rewards for beer pong winners. Although some of you may be happy about the whole R-T-W thing, on the other hand Rick did sign up Michigan for Obamacare Medicaid Expansion, so it might be a wash on the bumper sticker/reward idea.

If you're beginning to feel uncomfortable (politically as well as morally), we could always go back to Plan A, and meet at Short's Brewing Co, with a kayaking excursion after, or some other really fun activity.

Barry Soetoro

Yeah I gotta be getting close to some kind of record for moderation. I haven't gotten the one for "libel and defamation" yet - need to work on that. I wonder if Greyhound serves the fine community of Bellaire???


What about the "allegedly" thing? Wasn't that the result of "libel and defamation"? There's been so many, especially when you throw in my moderating rebukes along with yours, it's getting confusing trying to keep up with all this, in addition to saving the world from extremists. Didn't LessThanAmused get a few, too? I need a beer summit.

I suppose we could rent a big bus like the college kids do, although they probably have more money for such things than us. We'd have to get a really big bus, to hold all the kayaks, gear, change of clothing, and cases of....Anyway, maybe we should stick with the Tri-Cities? St An's?


Are you kidding me? Get a grip and loosen up!


Why Barry?

Barry Soetoro

I guess I need to loosen up a bit, Bee. Point taken!


Is that what Bee meant?


Oh,I was just wondering why Barry was upset about the celebration? I will go back to quietly lurking.


Ha! I thought maybe you were asking '"why" a beer summit, Barry?' Although you are now entering your busy season, don't just lurk - sting away anytime!


Of course you're invited. Just wait until you get your engraved invitation....keep waiting, it'll be there soon....be patient now....any day, any day......;-S

Tri-cities realist

Still waiting ;-)

Tri-cities realist

Wow. Apparently the definition of a personal attack has changed.


Nice picture of "The Educators" and "The Professionals" of SLPS. An example of our hard earned dollars at work. (Did we buy that round?)


Because professionals never let their hair down and just enjoy life. Yeah, right. Sounds like you should probably joint them next time and let loose a bit. It'll do ya good.


Top 1%-2% in the nation. You can't be serious

"Hard earned dollars at work?" Certainly. Top 10-20 school system in the state which has been spending tax dollars intelligently. These people in SL & GH worked their tails off to improve the opportunities of our children in the Tri-Cities. What have you done to improve our community other than anonymously whine on a message board?


just another notch in the belt of the superintendent on his way to a personal agenda .Won't be long before that agenda is clear to the voters SLPS.


If successful bond proposals are your idea of a superintendent's personal agenda, then I for one am very grateful for Mr. Futon's "personal" desire to improve the learning environment for the kids at SLPS. If safety is "personal" then his priorities are in order with the parents of our community. Understanding the need for improved technology and transportation are also what matters to us and are very "personal". If new fields for our student athletes matter to Mr. Furton, then he understands the outstanding efforts of lacrosse and soccer players on and off the field. If a adequate facilities for our tennis teams and band are part of his "personal agenda" I say thank you for listening.

It's all "personal" because it's about our kids and community. It takes a great leader to be the visionary of for an entire school district and certainly requires a "personal" agenda. For that I say...THANK YOU Mr. Furton for making this "personal". Today I am one very proud parent of Spring Lake Public Schools - GO LAKERS!


I would be happy too if I tricked all the goys in Spring Lake to give there hard earned money to the Welfare State that is America.


Who do you propose should provide funding for schools?

Also, do you realize that the funding is going to SLPS, and not the Federal Government?

Thirdly, do you realize that you should have typed "their" instead of "there?"


how many school employees and there family members are the percentage of those who voted, they know that voting in the proposals is like voting in job security for them, no no its for the "children" . . .


Another interesting question. It was determined after the November election that 70% of the registered voters in Spring Lake do not have children who attend the school district. What percentage of those voters showed up at the polls yesterday, I have no idea.


Some of the comments are truly unfortunate. For the life of me I do not understand the personal attacks against Mr. Furton or those who worked so diligently to fully inform voters of the issues...literally thousands of hours of work. I can appreciate they wanted to celebrate the outcome - and that they wanted to do it privately. The request to ask the Tribune not to take pictures seems perfectly appropriate to me. The fact that the Tribune took it upon themselves to clearly delineate that "Furton declined comment....because the Tribune took pictures of the group's celebratory gathering" is out of line and borders on trashy reporting. Did the Tribune choose to take pictures of the "celebratory gathering" that the Grand Haven Public Schools had last night? (It also was in a public establishment.) Why do I find this unfortunate? Because suddenly the focus is on something completely irrelevant and invites the negative commentary. The Grand Haven Tribune has repeatedly and over many months allowed very specific and very negative comments about Mr. Furton to be published - from ANONYMOUS writers. Why? Does somebody at the Tribune have something against Mr. Furton? Let's turn our attention to the positive steps made for the education of our children and grandchildren.

Tri-cities realist

If they wanted to celebrate the outcome, perhaps they shouldn't have picked a public place. And if you don't want your picture taken in a public place... Do I need to finish this sentence? My comment was directed at the bizarre statement about the superintendent not providing a comment. Being the superintendent of the school system in a small community, he should realize that if he is in a public place (or anywhere) on the night of an important bond election, the local newspaper may want a comment from him. Is that so unreasonable to assume? Why WOULDN'T he give the newspaper a comment? Or was that his way of "getting back" at the Tribune for photographing them in a public place? Seems childish and immature, not the qualities I look for in a superintendent.

Tri-cities realist

Is my above comment considered a "personal attack"? If so, then apparently we aren't free to comment upon those individuals who are entrusted with educating our children, and spending our tax dollars. And people wonder why things are the way they are. You have NO right to not be offended, if people can't handle any criticism, then they shouldn't be in public positions.


TCR - You're assuming everything you read in this publication is fair and accurate? Why? And, if you really want answers to your questions, why don't you email him?


Since when is a celebration (by adults) for a job well done worthy of receiving personal/negative attacks? Are you kidding me? We "raise our glasses" at weddings, wakes, retirement parties, and the list goes on. It is shameful that some people in this community are responding in such a way to a well ran campaign and victory for the families and kids at Spring Lake Schools. How many parents and staff voted...I hope ALL OF THEM did, because they care about children and Spring Lake Schools. Congratulations Mr. Furton and the committee of dedicated parents, volunteers and staff - CHEERS TO YOU ALL!


I agree with Travel00. There were many people who put in a lot of time to educate the voters. The results of the Bond Proposals prove that the voters agreed with the needs of the district. Mr. Furton is extremely dedicated to the Spring Lake School district and worked diligently to answer any questions and inform the voters. How anybody can find fault with a celebratory thank you to the volunteers is beyond me.


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