SL district studies bond potential

Spring Lake school officials say they are in the early stages of addressing the district's needs in the areas of technology, transportation and infrastructure.
Krystle Wagner
Jan 31, 2013

District officials are interviewing firms to help them gauge the scope of a potential bond proposal to put before voters. The bond would fund several projects.

“We’re not committing to do anything at this point,” Superintendent Dennis Furton said.

The proposal could be up for a vote as early as November. Before then, Furton said they have a lot of talking and listening to do.

Last week, district officials interviewed architectural firms. School board President Paul Aldridge said the next step is to finalize an agreement with an architectural firm, which they are in the process of doing now.

Throughout the next month, pre-bond planning and community engagement will take shape, Aldridge said.

“Community input will be crucial as the district seeks to identify the scope of our bond proposal,” he said.

This past fall, Spring Lake Public Schools had a facility analysis look at the entire district. It identified needs from heating systems, transportation, roofing, security and space — because the district is at capacity, officials said.

Furton said they won’t tackle everything addressed in the facility analysis, but they will identify the priorities and work from there.

The analysis reported the middle school and intermediate school building needs a new boiler and heating system, while the newer high school needs enhanced or improved items.

Both Holmes and Jeffers elementary schools are older buildings and would require more work — "a significant investment,” Furton said.

Furton said they don’t yet know the scope of the project and haven’t decided exactly what would be addressed with a bond. He said it’s complex because it’s about taxes and the future of the district.

The district's debt tax rate is currently at 6.43 mills. Furton said the additional bond would qualify the district for the state’s school bond loan fund.

The state fund is available for infrastructure and capital needs for school districts with a minimum of 7 debt mills. It gives districts the opportunity to smooth their debt repayment over a longer period of time.

Furton explained the fund means taxpayers won’t see a large hike, although it means the district could be paying money back for several extra years.

Furton said they are still months away from knowing the full scope of the project.

“We’re just taking it one small step at a time,” he said.

Spring Lake schools received some renovations from a 2006 bond.

In 2007, four classrooms were added to Holmes Elementary School. Jeffers Elementary School received renovations in the main office, teacher workroom and media center.

At that time, the aquatic center was built at the high school, which also added three classrooms. A science room was also added to the intermediate and middle school building.

Comments

ohreally

If SL wants a new building, put 15 portables in the parking lot of the high school. That will get a new school!

In all seriousness, the district needs to be much more transparent than what they are being right now. They are fortunate to be part of a community that rallies around the school; however it is also a community that will open their wallets IF they know why they are opening it and keep open lines of communication. This should be a no brainer for the board and Mr. Furton.

My confusion point is the location of the new "super elementary." Jeffers has far more land around it than Holmes and didn't Spring Lake purchase a large parcel of land adjacent to the HS? The district can build over to the west (where current maintenance/old school bus storage is) and move maintenance storage to current Holmes area. Also Holmes is the building with the "odd" smell and other issues. It doesn't really make sense to keep the lesser of the two buildings.

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