Spring Lake Public Schools is asking the community to consider a $59.8 million bond to fund a new elementary school campus; enhance districtwide technology; upgrades at the intermediate/middle school, high school and other district buildings for energy savings; replace furniture; and purchase buses.
The bond would be paid over 30 years. It would raise the district’s debt levy to 7 mills, an increase of 0.569 of a mill.
The district anticipates operational costs would decrease by about $150,000 a year, or about $4.5 million throughout the bond’s 30 years.
Superintendent Dennis Furton said the district's current facilities are dated, access to technology is limited and operational costs exceed what is sustainable.
“When you compare the teaching and learning that occurs today to what we'll experience when the bond is approved, the contrast is dramatic,” he said.
If voters approve the proposition, the district would purchase 25 acres for the K-4 elementary school on the corner of 148th Avenue and Leonard Street.
Although students would share areas of the building, they would be separated into K-4 wings, and each wing would have separate bus and parent drop-off locations.
Jeffers Elementary School Principal Shelley Peets said the new school would inspire 21st-century learning, where current buildings that are more than 50 years old fall short.
“Right now, our buildings are a hindrance to our children’s education,” she said.
Peets said the new school would keep learning communities small, yet children would interact during recess, lunch and other times.
The final building won’t be designed until the bond is approved, and would be developed with staff and community input.
Current estimated costs include the demolition of Jeffers and Holmes elementary schools, and the bus garage. Furton said the buildings are listed for demolition because they aren’t suitable for teaching and learning, but the board won’t officially decide the buildings’ fate until a later date.
Spring Lake Intermediate School Principal Ben Lewakowski said the bond would allow his aging school to receive a facelift. It would provide a new secure entry, replace the roof, remove portable structures, add a bus loop, upgrade the heating and cooling system, provide an improved lunch service system, and more.
“It’s bringing things up to speed and match the type of learning our kids deserve,” Lewakowski said.
Athletic fields and a bus/maintenance facility would be added to the high school site. Athletic fields would be built north of the existing high school and include a synthetic turf football field, an eight-lane track, multiuse sports and practice fields, varsity and junior varsity baseball and softball fields, a ticket booth, and parking.
The bond would allow the district to replace 10 buses in an aging fleet, which are more than 15 years old and each has more than 200,000 miles on it. The district would save between $50,000 and $75,000 annually in bus maintenance, school officials say, compared to about $9,000 a year spent to maintain or repair older buses.
For the owner of a $120,000 home, the millage would require an additional $34 a year in property tax. The owner of a $200,000 home would see an increase of $57 a year.
As the district strives to engage the community, Furton said they are working on scheduling a time for a large forum to discuss the bond issue.