Yes to SL school millage

To the Editor: On November 5, Spring Lake school district residents will have the opportunity to vote on a school millage request.
Oct 23, 2013


My wife and I have four children who all went through the Spring Lake School system. We are also both lifelong educators.  I will be voting YES on 11/5/13 for the Spring Lake Schools Bond Proposal.

Regardless of what evaluation tool you select the Spring Lake School District rates very high.

The current Michigan school funding model does not provide extra funds for building maintenance – only for operational expenses.  It is important to understand bond funds cannot be used for salaries, maintenance, supplies, or administrative costs.

Do understand that on your personal property tax bill there are two different school tax lines.  One line is for 18 mills operating which you only pay if you own more than one house in the school district. The other line is school debt which is the part in which this millage deals.  Of the eleven school districts near us in Ottawa County four will have higher school debt millage rates than Spring Lake will have after this bond is passed, four almost identical and only three lower. 

The current Michigan School funding levels are the same as they were in 2006, and no one can say costs have not gone up since 2006.  This problem is compounded by the fact that the SLSD has to use operational money to pay for necessary maintenance needs.

Both of the Spring Lake elementary schools are 60 years old.  The buildings have old heating systems, old wiring, old plumbing, old roofs, and old windows which are all expensive to maintain and costs will just continue to escalate.  A new elementary building will mean drastically reduced heating and maintenance costs.  The decision to build one elementary school instead of two was based on the following two things: 1) it is very educationally sound to have all the elementary students in the same building; and 2) building one building instead of two buildings will provide significant savings both with the original capital investment and with maintenance costs in the years to come. It will mean up-to-date rooms, instructional materials and furniture.  It will also mean the Spring Lake system will not be faced with major building costs for a long time to come.

Almost any educator will tell you the first few years in school are the most formative years in the process of educating children. This new building will provide our area children a great facility as they begin their education.

The Spring Lake Middle School was built 55 years ago in 1958. It is in need of some major maintenance improvements.  These improvements are needed now, and if they are postponed they will just get more expensive and, in the interim, significant amounts of money will be needed to keep the building functional.

School building security is becoming a major issue and one which needs to be addressed at all the Spring Lake School buildings including the new high school.  This proposal will address building security in all of the buildings. 

We all know there are technical advances every day.  Our Spring Lake students and teachers have to be provided updated technical equipment.

  As for buses, the Spring Lake School fleet has 10 buses which are 15 years old or older with 200,000 miles on each one.  The ten new buses, with a new bus garage, will save a significant amount of money with both maintenance and repair costs.

Finally, we come to the many new athletic fields and stadiums which are proposed as part of the bond. I have to say as a lifelong athlete and coach I question the real need for this much new athletic field expansion.

Our community and our current and future Spring Lake area children deserve the best quality education system we can provide.  It is very important to also note in today’s society the people with the best jobs often have a choice as to where they want to live. The quality of the school system is a very big factor, if not the biggest factor, in determining where people purchase a home.

We have no children or grandchildren in the area and we live on the lake.  We know our taxes will definitely go up.  However, I will be voting YES for this millage proposal.

John Nash
Spring Lake



Certainly John and his wife are free to voice their opinion concerning the bond proposal and even express how they will vote but what concerns me about his comments is when he mentions the athletic portion of the proposal. John says, "I question the real need for this much new athletice field expanision." That is a 7 million dollar question that John is brining up yet he is willing to over look it and vote yes.

This is where the board and administators have failed us because there are things in the bond proposal we need and things we simply don't need. Voters like John and his wife in a way are handcuffed. Obviously they aren't agreeing with everything but are willing to overlook a 7 million dollar phase to the proposal.

The bond could very well pass and if it does good for Spring Lake Public Schools but if it doesn't you will find a more realistic proposal in May that voters most likely would approve.

In a sense we are being bullied because of the time line for the window of opportunity for spreading the bond proposal out over 30 years. I just wish the board and administration would have done it right the first time.

In the next two weeks the community is going to become divided. "Yes" and "No" signs are popping up all over and a lot of frustration and hurt is going to come out of this and it was completely avoidable.


Reality check:
1. The athletics proposal is $4.5 million of the entire amount;
2. Additional athletic fields are a need, not a want...overuse of current fields is ruining the fields & creating additional costs - & that's money that could go toward classrooms;
3. I haven't heard that a new proposal will be offered in May, have you? Or, is that your opinion?
4. Bullied? Not a chance. Challenged? Absolutely & why not?
5. You sound small when you criticize the Board anonymously on a message board. If you want to be taken seriously, state your name. Or, leave the petty barbs out of your comments;
6. Avoiding real issues is foolish - this is an important matter for our kids and the Board was elected to dig deep into the information, ask questions, and formulate a plan. They did that knowing that this would be hard on them and their neighbors. I commend them for having the courage to do so...with their names actually attached to the decision.
7. This community will not be divided by this issue any more than it has been by past millages - some win, some lose...we move on.

Vote YES - As Mr. Nash has surmised, this proposal is good for the education of our children and he knows a little bit about education.


just one more thing...anyone ever seen John Nash get bullied? Didn't think so.


Of course not but if I had to guess Dennis Furton asked him to write a letter along with the Grabinski family, staff members, moms, etc. Dennis is a smart man and if the bond passes it will be because of his marketing genious. I would certainly give him a high grade for his efforts.

Brian Grabinski

LakerAlum87 - I can tell you I have never (nor, to my knowledge, has anyone in my family) met nor spoken with Dennis Furton. After reviewing the information, I support the bond. If you do not, that is fine. However, make sure you are doing it based on accurate information, not the comments on this site - as many claims are simply not true. Look into funding, what this bond can and can't be used for, and how it does or does not have anything to do with the current deficit. Then everyone should make their own decision based on whether they think the increased cost for the taxpayer is appropriate for the improvements that will be made.


his marketing skill are not as good as he thinks. He has made violations regarding this election and it will be coming around to bite him in the butt!


According the the Tribune it is 7.4 million for the athletic portion. This was in the paper a few days ago. I'm not sure which fields are being ruined. The football field and baseball field look great. I haven't seen the soccer field recently but I'm sure now with it being the end of the season it will have some wear and tear. Dennis Furton stated if the proposal failed the soonest a new one could be proposed would be in May. Maybe bullied was a strong term but we are being told to act now or lose out. We are being pressured/challenged. I have talked with members of the board, Dennis Furton, staff members, and people in the community so for you to criticize me in that regards is inappropriate on your part. I'm challenging voters to think about all that goes in to the proposal and to determine if they are necessary. I believe some are but not all. I'm tired of people just making blank statements that say, "think about the kids." I am thinking about the kids but am also trying to make the best decision. Just because my kids tell me they want or need something doesn't meen I automatically give it to them. Can I afford the money, sure, but is it necessary.

If you want to resort to attacks and name calling by all means continue to do so. My wife and I are undecided voters at this point who will continue to ask questions and look for understanding all the way up until the vote.


We also have two children who currently attend Spring Lake.


I guess the biggest difference between our approaches is that I'm critical of 'LakerAlum87' and who the heck knows who that is? Can't say that I've damaged anyone's reputation. You, on the other hand, have been and continue to be critical of actual people such as the board and administration. You called their tactic bullying...which would make them 'bullies.' You did that. But, who are you? Everyone who cares at least a little will know who they are - but your criticism is hidden behind 'LakerAlum87.' Do you think that's okay? It's not like you are the worst - sallyjane54, I see you - but really, can't you keep the barbs to actual people out of your content? Or, sign you name.

Looking through your posts, you appear to be anything BUT undecided, which is your right.


I don't sign my name to protect my children. I have no idea who you are winston and I don't really care to know. I appreciate your comments and insights other than the personal attacks. I did state that I was wrong in using the word bullying but I do feel pressured because of the bond time frame.


I have been reading many of the comments over the last week or so and have never created an account so I thought I would throw myself into the ring since some of the numbers weren't adding up. I just emailed Dennis Furton in regard to the athletic portion of the bond as this what he stated, "Athletics is $4.75 of the total. The $7.0 includes other work @ the HS (parking, tech infrastructure, and a variety of small ticket items)."

I hope this helps clear anything up and provides all the voters with the information they need to make their decision.


Funny that the middle school can raise $22000.00 for a walk a thon and Jeffers for their Jeffers Jive can raise over $18000.00. So for the athletic portion why cant the school raise money? Why do us tax payers have to keep paying? You know like the beautiful addition that Jeffers just had put on not too long ago? Every time I turn around it seems like the school needs more money. Even if this does pass, in another couple of years the school will need more money for something else and they will be trying to pass another mil. And Mr. Furton has already violated many things. There are not allowed to be anything with the vote yes on it at the school. They are not allowed to send out mass emails and there are more violations from him.


I also feel that all I hear is that for our kids to have a better education they need a better school. Yes I do get the technology part of it but everything that the school is requesting is not necessary. We even have to purchase more land to build the school. Just because I don't live in a $200,00.00 house doesn't mean my family isn't s good as someones family who does. The same goes for the school. It is not the building or the football field, it is the teachers that will make it a better school for education.


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