GHAPS to ask voters for $45M

Voters in the Grand Haven school district will see two propositions on the May 6 ballot that, if approved, together will generate about $45 million for the school system over the next 10 years.
Krystle Wagner
Feb 6, 2014


The proposals aim to improve the district’s technology, facilities, safety and security.

The first proposal wouldn’t increase the debt millage. Superintendent Keith Konarska said that's possible because the current debt levy of 3.7 mills will be falling off and the district has a strong tax base.

The second proposal calls for a 0.47-mill hike.

Throughout the past year, committees have looked at options and opportunities for growth, including visiting schools to learn about their implementations.

“We want to make sure what we’re putting in place can be maintained and sustained,” Konarska said.

Proposal 1: no tax increase

The first proposition would raise about $35.5 million for the district. It includes:
• 1-to-1 technology devices
• Infrastructure improvements
• Desktop replacements
• Instructional technology replacements
• Phone system upgrade
• Equipment replacement — servers, media, copiers
• Update security cameras
• Bus replacements
• Student transportation tracking system
• Roof replacements
• Asphalt replacement
• Student learning equipment
• Improved fire systems at Lakeshore Middle School and Griffin Elementary School
• Secure entrance systems

Konarska said the student transportation tracking system allows students to swipe a card when they enter or exit a school bus. The technology allows district staff to know where students are at all times.

Proposal 2: 0.47-mill increase

The second ballot proposal would raise about $9.5 million. It includes:
• Districtwide fencing
• Asbestos removal
• Equipment replacement — classroom tables, student desks, lockers, cafeteria tables
• Athletic improvements — seat replacement, turf replacement, floor refinishing, weight room addition
• Arts improvements — classroom space, increase storage, ceiling replacement
• Improved traffic areas at Lakeshore Middle School and Grand Haven High School

Konarska said the district would work with Grand Haven Township and Ottawa County officials to create an additional exit and entrance for Grand Haven High School, and work with the city to improve the student drop-off location at Lakeshore Middle School.

The owner of a $100,000 taxable value home would see an annual $47 increase in their property taxes with approval of Proposal 2, which is contingent on the approval of Proposal 1.

As the district prepares to engage the community about the proposals, a citizens campaign committee has formed to help spread the information.

Sandy Huber, a retired Grand Haven Area Public Schools principal, is a co-chairperson of the campaign committee. She feels technology and security are important items to address, and the district must always have a plan to keep moving forward.

School board President John Siemion said he “wholeheartedly” supports the proposals because the improvements they'll fund will give students the tools to succeed.

“Our future is our students, and we owe it to them,” he said.

Operating millage

Voters will also determine the fate of an operating millage in May. It is the 18-mill renewal on nonprincipal properties and other nonexempt property, and 6 mills on commercial properties.

The annual renewal doesn’t impact the taxes on principal residences.

The operating millage brings in more than $17.3 million for maintaining the school district’s programs and services.

“It is critical to us opening our doors,” Konarska said.



Barry Soetoro

It doesn't seem that long ago that 35 million bought a brand new high school...


Really, a student transportation tracking system for busses, who comes up with these crazy ideas to waste tax payers money. There are already phone apps for tracking kids that parents can use, or even better yet, just have all kids electronically tagged.


Start charging senior citizens $3 instead of $2 to watch grandchildren play middle school basketball!! Parents are paying $160 pay to play right now. Fruitport does not charge seniors a penny to watch the games. Enough is enough GHAPS!!!!!!! You already have the best of the best.


I don't have a problem with my tax dollars being spent to teach our children how to support themselves financially in the adult world. I do have a problem with my tax dollars being spent to support sports programs. The huge amount of money spent on sports programs does nothing to insure that these children will grow up to be self supporting citizens of the community. I would like to see all spending on sports programs, facilities, and equipment halted immediately. It is a waste of tax payer's money. I would like to see a "pay to play" system instead with any sports programs being totally self supporting and not reliant on tax money paid by people who are not involved in sports.
I have heard the arguments about teaching our children to be team players but that does not justify this enormous waste of money. Surely, we can come up with other ways to teach them about cooperation with others.
NO NEW TAXES !!!!!!!!!

Common Sense101

Einstein you are NOT! I dare you to actually become involved in your local school system as a volunteer. There are more important things in this life than money.


Yeah? Well, it ain't sports.

I agree with Einstein, pay to play. You want your kid to be a football hero? Pay your own way. Don't expect taxpayers with no kids or interest in high school sports, to fund your childs' sports career.

And for the record, in the past I have worked in the concession during football season and volunteered in other capacities when I had kids in school.

I'd be much more likely to support funding for a Science Olympiad, or a mathmatics competition than Golf or Tennis. Sports are RECREATION, NOT education.


What about the kids that aren't Science Olympiad or math competition material? What about the kids that can only get through the academics because they are motivated by the sports? What about the need of the brain to have physical activity in order for it to process information (including math and science) more efficiently? What about the need for kids to have physical activity and have opportunities to form healthy habits now, that help compensate for our societies sedentary lifestyles? Believe me, there are more of these type, than there are of the science/math types.


There's so much wrong with what you said and how weakly you said it that I just don't know where to start. Given that I'd have to go line by line and I just don't care that much, I'm going to walk away and let your live with your dillusional justifications.

I sure hope you're a kid and not a parent. At least if you're a kid you still have time left to get a clue.

Tri-cities realist

"the need of the brain to have physical activity in order for it to process information (including math and science) more efficiently?"

Would beating one's head against the wall qualify?


Both proposals are a tax increase.
If the "3.7 mils fall off" due to payoff, that means your taxes will go down, by their figures, about $370 on a $100k house if NEITHER of these proposals pass.
Just vote in the annual renewal millage.

Tri-cities realist

I've always found the operating mileage interesting. Since it applies to nonprincipal residences, those who live and vote elsewhere, and own a property here, help fund the schools. Talk about taxation without representation. Although I'm not complaining, which I suppose makes me a hypocrit in this instance. At least I can admit it when it is the case.


All extracurricular activities should be funded by parents, the money should go to basic education.


I think it is interesting that out of the 20 or so improvements listed, many have only focused on athletics. They are talking about creating a safer environment for our children, they are wanting to implement new technology so our children will be better prepared for their future educational opportunities, and they want to reduce the risk of health problems by removing the asbestos. Did you read the same article?


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