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GHAPS to ask voters for $45M

Krystle Wagner • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:54 PM
kwagner@grandhaventribune.com 616-842-6400 ext. 226

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.

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