School plan: Goodbye to Hammond?

If residents are going to say hello to a new Holmes Elementary School, they may have to say goodbye to Hammond Street.
Marie Havenga
Jan 14, 2014


Spring Lake Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Furton asked Village Council on Monday night about the possibility of vacating Hammond Street, which runs north and south between Grandview Avenue and South Street, just east of the intermediate and middle schools.

Although the plans are purely preliminary, Furton said vacating the short street would offer the district “greater flexibility” if community members and the school board should decide that what they're calling Option C — building new 65,000-square-foot Holmes and Jeffers elementary schools — is the route to take for future district needs.

By vacating Hammond Street, the Holmes campus could accommodate a traffic loop for cars off River Street and bus access off Grandview Avenue.

A new Holmes could be built just south of the existing elementary school that currently fronts River Street and faces north. A new building could face west toward South Street.

The district will host a third community input session tonight at Crockery Township Hall. The school board is expected to make a decision on a leading proposal next Monday.

The other two options include expanding the elementary schools. Option A would add an additional 5,500 square feet and Option B another 30,000 square feet to each 50,000-square-foot building.

The costs are not known at this time, according to Furton.

The superintendent said that new buildings would provide the best long-term solution, with a life expectancy of 50 years, compared to 25 years for remodeling and adding on. Both Jeffers and Holmes are about 60 years old.

Furton noted that current elementary classrooms are 800 square feet. New school designs typically add another 150 square feet per room to accommodate larger children and larger class sizes.

“We do see an advantage to building new,” Furton said. “It’s a more expensive and more long-term option, but it clearly meets the needs of the district better. Right now, we’re seeing the trend toward Option C. But we’ll take the data and see which plan the community favors most strongly.”

Furton showed Village Council a sketch of what a site plan with a new Holmes could look like.

“This is very preliminary,” the superintendent cautioned. “We haven’t done a design plan. What this shows is how it could look.”

The drawing shows a new Holmes beginning in the existing playground and running south midway through the existing tennis courts. Furton said the district could build additional courts within the village to mitigate the loss.

Village Manager Chris Burns said the village would need to look at how much money it might lose in local street funds if the street is vacated.

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



Expand classroom sizes? Larger class sizes? Take the money and add more teachers to give the children a bit more teaching time. I know it's easier said than done but you add more students to a class and you lose more of the one on one time that teaching requires.


Here we go again....No design plan and no idea of costs, yet they obviously have their hearts set on option C (most likely the most expensive option) as it has the most "advantage"

The artilcle mentions that our schools are 60 years old, they have been well maintained and are not crumbling down. Yet if we spend millions and build new (with much more modern materials and construction techniques) we can only expect 50 years of life out of the building? Well, build me one exactly like the existing so we can get 60+ years out of it!

Listen guys you tried pulling the wool last time and you got shot down, how 'bout being a little more honest this time and not treating the taxpayers like fools...


How can you ask for millage if you do not know what the costs are?


I was not on the committee for the last bond proposal and I was a "No" voter. I was specifically asked to be on the new bond proposal because of my "No" vote. I live in the village.

The Tribune article is "poor" at best in relating the options and costs that could be a part of a new bond proposal.

Currently the 25+ committee is on a fact finding mission to determine what if any proposal could be brought back to the voters. It is difficult for me to try and explain things via the "Comment" section of the Tribune so if you are more interested in handouts and such things I can email those to you or you are welcome to call the school. What I can tell you is below are the scenarios, costs, and brief explanations of options for the elementary schools.

Scenario A - Holmes = $7.9 million (Small Addition and Renovation of existing)
Scenario A - Jeffers = $7.5 million (Small Addition and Renovation of existing)

Scenario B - Holmes = $14.4 million (Large Addition, Renovation, and a portion of the current school to be removed)
Scenario B - Jeffers = $14.4 million (Large Addition, Renovation, and a portion of the current school to be removed)

Scenario C - Holmes = $17.4 million (New School - same location)
Scenario C - Jeffers = $17.4 million (New School - same location or further north off of 144th avenue on land that the school already owns)

Those community members who have attended the first two sessions have been able to ask questions, give comments, and also use an electronic voting device to give their opinions. The format will happen one last time tonight at the Crockery Township meeting at 6:30.

There are also upgrades that have been talked about in regard to the High School, Middle School, and Intermediate School as well as Athletic options.

If a proposal is brought forth chances are everything would not be "lumped" together. Example: Voters could approve upgrades at the Middle/Intermediate School but say no to the elementary as well as the athletics.

I'm not here to try and convince you of anything other than doing my best to give you some facts since the Tribune obviously made it sound like no cost or ideas have been presented. That certainly is not the case.

Certainly nothing could be done but even though I was a "No" voter the first time around I do believe there are needs within the District. My hope is that through all of the information that is obtained some sort of proposal "that makes sense" can be brought to the voters.


The Tribune can only print what it is told. The article quotes Furton as saying the financials are unknown. So who is not being transparent? Furton, saying the financials are unknown? The Tribune for printing that Furton said this when financials are seemingly known? Or Jason (above) putting numbers out that may not be real? Ugh...


I have no idea why the numbers were not listed in the article because what I posted is what information we have determined in our committee work and what was also presented at the community meetings. Obviously there is a disconnect for some odd reason. If you are interested in the information please contact the Central Office via email or phone and they can help you out. I would be more than happy to supply the information to you as well if needed. Thanks for your interest and comments.


The tribune asked what the bond would cost. That won't be known until the board approves it for the ballot. There are multiple scenarios. The potential costs are what Jason outlined. No secrecy here,


Jason - thank you! A fact driven response and an open mind. I wish more of us would take that approach.

On another note I was stunned to learn that in a survey of voters (after the November 5 defeat) that voters declared the GH Tribune as their NUMBER ONE source of information! Please folks - we need to dig deeper than the Tribune. They have proven time and again an unwillingness to stick to the facts and a leaning toward the dramatic. Shame on you GHT - stick to the facts because you are the NUMBER ONE influence in the voters minds!!


Jason thank you for that...although I do agree that often times the GHT doesn't provide all of the facts, it appears as though SL is not providing all of the facts. As I recall when "Bond 13" was presented, the district posted each option on their website, had the Tribune very involved in their reporting, and showed the public the ideas of the committee. This time around, the SL website has a single link to the dates of when presentations will take place and that is it. Jason, you have single-handedly provided many with more information than the school has! (Thank you by the way!)

In response to toosense...interesting fact regarding the Tribune. Wouldn't that tell the school that they may want to be more transparent with the community via the newspaper and website to demonstrate their ideas and allow for people to soak in what is being asked of them? I know I personally would like to be informed PRIOR to going into one of the meetings so I can gather more information and then if they choose to poll me and ask for my opinion, I can give an educated response.

In my opinion (not that it's worth that much), the district (Mr. Furton and BOE), is trying to keep things much quieter than last time, push through the most expensive plan (two new elem schools) and keep voters as uneducated as possible with as little input as possible, all the while making it appear as though they are more transparent and "listening." I promise you that while an EPIC-MRA poll was conducted, Mr. Furton and the BOE will push through what Mr. Furton and the BOE want. Sadly trust has been lost since the days of Larry Mason and Mark Westerburg. SL has made some crucial mistakes in the past 5-7 years that are now coming around full front to haunt them. Again in my opinion, the public needs to be VERY CAREFUL about what is presented to them by this "regime." Lastly, keep yourselves informed and SL, if the GHT is your voters #1 source of info, work with them, not against them.


I will do my best to convey your desire for more "transparency" from the BOE as well as Superintendent Furton. This would also apply to the committee that I am a part of. I will also try to keep you informed or answer questions as things develop.


Jason, I have a question for you. Where is the money coming from for this sinking fund? Is there going to be another bond in the future for it or will it come right out of the money for this bond that will be presented in May? If you could clear that up, that would be great!


The sinking fund was presented as a future ballot proposal. In 7+ years. From what I gather, the district is trying to clear up the issue of how the buildings will be maintained down the road. They want a bond now and likely a sinking fund (voter approved) in the future. To me they are trying to make sure the community knows that a future request is coming.


Well at the Crockery meeting that is not what was said about the sinking fund. Then you go home...think about stuff and have more questions. The sinking fund was said to be available in 7 years. That was it, nothing mentioned of a future proposal. I just want as much information that I can get so when I vote, I fell I am voting correctly not just from hear say or how my friend is voting.


Simply put, the money would come from taxpayers. The Sinking Fund would have to be brought to the voters in the coming years. If there is a new bond proposal for this coming May, the money for that bond would not be used for a Sinking Fund.

No timetable has been established for a Sinking Fund. The committee has not discussed any concrete plans for it. It was mentioned to educate the community about something that could be brought forth in the future.

This goes back to my "Master Plan" comment on the Crockery article. I believe it is imperative that the next 50 or so years is planned out specifically in regard to the future needs of the district and made available to the community so we are all on the same page. By doing so would allow the idea of a Sinking Fund to be incorporated.

One other thing I would like to point out is that money from a Sinking Fund cannot be used toward Technology or Bussing. That is a state law which I personally think stinks. I probably should contact our state representatives and voice my opinion on this matter because especially with the way technology continues to change it would be nice to set aside money for those improvements/upgrades.


I have added some comments to the more current article that was in the paper entitled, "School Plans Presented in Crockery" so please refer to that article. I figured the older the article gets the less people will look at it. Thanks again for all your comments and questions. They are much appreciated.


Jason, so what would be the life expectancy out of our new school that would be built? I don't know if I missed that or it was never brought up.


If a new school is built the expectancy would be 50 years. That is the industry standard.


ok ,here is my next question then. It was asked at the meeting about the middle school needing replaced soon since it is 50 yrs old. The answer Mr. Furton gave was that it would last a long time because the way it was engineered and designed. Mr. Thuene promised that we wouldn't need a new middle school in 10 years (by then it would be about 60 yrs old). So I guess I am confused, none of this makes sense. But now this new school would last at least 50 yrs...why would the middle school not need replaced.


Great question.

The new bond committee did have a lot of deep discussions on the Middle/Intermediate school but this is what I can tell you. The Middle/Intermediate school was roughly built 10 years after the elementary schools and although that doesn't seems very long the advancements in construction were quite improved and more thought and detail was put into the construction of that building compared to the construction of the elementary schools. The other key component is that over time, money has been invested in it for its upkeep certainly better than the elementary schools. This was mainly do to the fact that it housed our Jr and Sr High up until the new high school was built.

As I stated before, from the construction company, the industry standard for a new building is roughly 50 years. Now that is basically if you don't bother with any upgrades over the life of the buildling. Certainly if things are continually updated (possible use of a Sinking Fund) you have a better chance of exceeding those 50 years.

I hope that answers your question.


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