GH voters say yes to bond issues

Grand Haven school district voters approved two bond proposals Tuesday totaling about $46 million.
Krystle Wagner
May 7, 2014

Voters also approved the district’s annual renewal operating millage.

Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Keith Konarska said he was “ecstatic and so appreciative of the incredible support” of the community.

“I truly believe this reflects the high regard our community holds for education,” he said. “I also believe it demonstrates the community has a significant amount of trust and confidence in our district to put these plans in place for our students.”

Konarska said they were optimistic going into Tuesday night because of the efforts made to help voters understand the issues. He said they owe a “tremendous amount of appreciation” to the co-chairs of the citizens’ group who supported the bond campaign — Sandy Huber, Patrick Moran and Jeff Beswick.

The district’s 18-mill renewal for non-principal properties and other non-exempt property, and 6 mills on commercial personal properties passed with about 80 percent of voters supporting the measure. The nonprincipal operating millage brings in more than $17.3 million for the district’s programs and services.

Voters approved Proposal 1 with 3,396 yes votes to 1,593 saying no. The proposal extends the district’s current levy, and it will generate $36 million through the next 10 years. It will pay for technology upgrades, infrastructure improvements, updated security cameras, bus replacements, students learning equipment, as well as roof and asphalt replacement.

Proposal 2 also got the nod of approval with 2,959 yes votes and 2,024 no votes. The proposal increases the district’s debt levy by 0.47 mill, and it would generate about $9.69 million. The proposal would include districtwide fencing, asbestos removal, improved traffic areas at Lakeshore Middle School and Grand Haven High School, as well as athletic and arts improvements.

The owner of a home with $100,000 taxable value will see an annual $47 increase in property taxes.

“I believe (the proposals are) going to help keep our district on the cutting edge of education and it’s going to help us maintain those 21st-century classrooms,” Konarska said.

Improvements to Grand Haven High School’s Performing Arts Center drew Keith Owens and his daughter, Emily, to the polls Tuesday afternoon.

Keith Owens said his children were involved in drama and choir productions, and he knows the improvements are needed. The Grand Haven man added that the annual renewal “should be a no-brainer.”

Emily Owens, a 2013 Grand Haven High School alumna, said she worked on productions including last year’s Bucs Above Distractions campaign. She said some of the outdated equipment needs to be replaced.

“There are many repairs that need to happen in the Performing Arts Center,” she said.

Although Ferrysburg resident Tim O’Donnell said he supported the annual renewal, he opposed the two bond proposals. O’Donnell said he thought the “school board should live within its means.”

“In this day and age, we shouldn’t be borrowing money,” he said.

Grand Haven resident Richard Bullington also opposed the bond proposals, saying he thought the school board should find money elsewhere. Bullington, who is retired, said he didn’t want his taxes raised.

“Every four to five years, they raise taxes,” said Bullington, 68. “I don’t think a raise in taxes is appropriate right now.”

Ferrysburg resident Don Gross, whose friends have children in the district, said he would like to see the proposed improvements because students are the future.

“It’s great for the kids,” he said.

Throughout the upcoming year, staff will be trained to implement technology and introduce it to students. Konarska said planning for construction projects will also take place within the next year, and more will be rolled out during the next 10 years.



For God's sake get the traffic at the middle school addressed first thing!


Amen to that!


now lets see if the schools will stand behind what they say their going to use it for. Last time the arts department got screwed out of funding . I really think its time for parents of sports to go to pay to play.


Fat chance of that. Just like the aquatic center, bait and switch. It's time for the parents to realize the school admins are pulling the wool over their eyes again with these proposals.

It's time for some admins to take pay cuts and save the district some money. Instead of crying poor, while collecting their six figure salaries for doing nothing.


@Spanone ... With all due respect, my son participates in track at Lakeshore and we just had to pay a $115 fee. There was also a fee for football (in addition to the fact that we have to pay to watch our own son's middle school football games). He also participates in Science O, which also requires a fee. However, he also is in the 7th grade band as well as the Jazz Band, which has cost us virtually nothing out of pocket outside of the cost of the instrument which is ours to keep. So of all the activities her participates in, the "arts" are the only ones with no fees. So forgive me if I'm having a hard time understanding your point. Granted, this is just my family's experience so your mileage may vary. I mean no disrespect, but I just find it interesting that people complain about athletes having some mythical "free ride" but don't have a firm grasp about what it costs for a child to participate in school sports. So they'll demand cuts in athletics and then complain about the childhood obesity epidemic.


Well said, JP. The Science O budget has been slashed the last couple years and the participation keeps going up (which is awesome). And as for teachers getting overpaid; I see many teachers coaching and putting tons of extra time in for our kids. We have great schools here; let's make sure they stay current with the ever changing technology.


I had to pay 115 for a child to play this year and pay to watch them participate so your pay to play comment is flat out wrong. After the fees and uniform costs for one sport I have over 350 invested and that does not include all the transportation because buses are reserved for football, track and baseball/softball teams, food costs, and all the extras required that the schools do not cover even though they are "required" team expenses. Now you can add all the costs for Band including camp which is another 350 fee and all the not required but expected you to participate activities with band as well. When I was attending GHHS sports and the arts were free for all who wanted to participate with minor exception along the way ..........sports parents are paying out the wazoo now.
I would like to see our kids have all the extras but we need to first worry about the quality of education they are receiving and unfortunately according the college professors that are teaching many of our graduates our system is lacking. I am being told our graduates are not ready for college level math, english and sciences........makes you wonder if our schools are rated so highly why our kids are doing so poorly when it comes to competing at a college level.


So JP as a single homeowner in ght, I should pay so your kids can play at school instead of learning. taxation without representation as I see it


Sports and Science O take place AFTER school. Who paid for your education BBB? Who pays for the roads you drive on? Everyone benefits from an educated and efficiently run community.


I really don't understand how Proposal 2 benefits the education of students or the community. And yes, I voted NO on it!


1. Fencing improves security at schools, particularly at elementary schools. We don't want the munchkins wandering out into the streets.
2. Removing asbestos from schools is a self-explanatory benefit. It's not in easy-access areas, but asbestos anywhere is bad, and it can complicate building maintenance even if it's not in view.
3. Upgrading traffic flow at LMS and GHHS is quite beneficial. For example, it dramatically shortens the walking distance to the baseball fields, which improves access for the physically challenged and families with young children. It eases event parking in general, and opens a second access point to the HS campus. It also improves access into the schools during the day, which is no small matter when you are funneling a thousand (two thousand at the HS) kids into a building at once.
4. Improvements to the arts and athletic wings at the HS are also helpful. Grand Haven has a great performance arts program (one of the best in the area), but the number of participating students has only increased. The spaces aren't really large enough or flexible enough to meet the programs' needs. Likewise, the weight room is pretty small for school with a Class A sports program.

So, those are the main benefits. I'm quite glad it passed.


And none of those items you listed contribute to EDUCATION!!! You do believe in a nanny-state don't you?
And as far as removing asbestos. There is no federal requirement that necessitates it's removal. As long as the locations are noted. These kids more than likely ingest far more dangerous and harmful chemicals in their homes, restaurants, or friends' homes.

I am glad my kids have been out of school for many years. I am fearful for our future from what I have seen graduating from our public schools these past few years. So, let's keep throwing money into the fire and see what happens. My guess, NOTHING but smoke!!!


Don't put words in my mouth.

If you can't see how a safe campus contributes to education, and think that improving traffic flow (which can be nightmarish around those buildings) is emblematic of the encroaching nanny state, I don't know what to tell you.

Expanding the fine arts facilities absolutely contributes to education, because it improves the usability of often-overcrowded and over-booked facilities. Stellar band, choir, and orchestra programs are an important part of Grand Haven's educational offerings.

Incidentally: hand-wringing about the manifold failures of the next generation is a very tired trope, indeed.


sobe 1)My singe income parents paid for mine and four siblings at a private school.
2)As a ght homeowner I also pay for roads I drive on.
3)How do sports and band equal an educated and efficiently run community
4( I do not mind paying for kids education during school hours,
pay for your kids after school hours, You had them not me


I'm hoping that private school was closed down. If this is a product of it, I will be glad to pay for public schooling for all.

Watt Not

I congratulate the district on the millage approval. I hope it gets used as intended. I am always amazed at the Administration's tactics. Nothing said about any millage in advance other than to parents, two weeks before the election all pro-millage signs go up. Ever try and find a list of Administrators (superintendents, vice and assistant) and their salaries? Talk about keeping a secret.


This could make things interesting!


I swear people are just plain brain dead and as dumb as a box of rocks.


Seems like many are willing to pay more taxes. Make sure you contact your State Reps before Thursday, May 8th, to let them know you want a gas tax hike also.
"The Michigan House of Representatives is planning to vote tomorrow on legislation (HB 5477) that would convert the existing cents-per-gallon gasoline excise tax to a percentage tax on the wholesale price of gasoline. It establishes a floor for gas tax revenue, but fails to establish a ceiling, and it decreases transparency.
HB 5477 will likely result in an immediate gas tax hike; however, of even greater concern is the fact that it puts future gas tax hikes on autopilot. Michigan already has the 5th-highest taxes on gasoline in the country, but in the last ten years, the state's budget has still increased by over 30%. Prioritizing spending, embracing free-market reforms and dedicating sales tax revenue already being paid on gasoline to roads are taxpayer-friendly solutions for fixing Michigan's roads."

Also, as a reminder in this ever forgetful country we've become. State lottery profits = education funding, gas taxes = road repair and maintenance!

Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on Create a new account today to get started.