Is it worth the price of a steak dinner?

To the Editor: The Spring Lake School Bond coming up for vote is asking for residents that have a home value of $120,000 to pay an additional $34/year for a brand new elementary school complex and new athletic fields in addition to other needed improvements.
Oct 28, 2013

 If you really get down to it, is preparing our children for higher education and being productive and responsible community citizens worth the price of a steak dinner?

Our two lower elementary facilities are 60 years old. They are in constant need of repair and the utility costs alone should prompt responsible administrators to look at a long-term strategy. If you have not been in one of them recently, make an appt and check them out. The inability to safely manage power needs in each classroom alone is a major issue. I could not plug in a hot plate in one classroom a few years ago without blowing a fuse. You need to run multiple extension cords because there are so few outlets.

If you have a child playing sports in the fall or the spring, you will notice a MAJOR problem with more children and more teams needing practice fields. It is wonderful to see over 100 children in Youth Football but yet they are scrambling to find a place to practice. In the Spring, Lacrosse has grown in popularity to the point that you will find teams crowded next to each other just to practice. Last year I witnessed girls and boys teams from 5th grade through High School all on the Middle School fields at the same time. It is a proven fact that being involved in a sport is key to good health and mental fitness as well as developing team and leadership skills.

It is our responsibility as members of the Spring Lake Community to provide an environment for our children that meets the physical and technological requirements to succeed as adults. Aging facilities only drain our strained budgets. I am looking at the next 50 years and what we have right now will not suffice. As a homeowner, I see that outdated educational facilities will just make our community less attractive to future buyers. This is an investment that affects everyone’s bottom line.

For the price of going out to dinner once or twice per year, the people of Spring Lake can do what is critical for the future of our children, our grandchildren, and our community. Please Vote YES for the School Bond.

— Wendy Swenson, Spring Lake

Comments

kookwan

I say VOTE NO - and it has nothing to do with steak dinners. We can and should be more fiscally responsible. Yes the building are 60 years old, but the middle school is only 5 years younger and we are going to put money into that to make it "better". Look at the elementary schools in the surrounding areas. They are older than the SL schools. We do have the responsibility to make the schools better, but that can be done with out spending Millions of dollars building a "conceptual" Super School. I also agree that athletics help a child to be well rounded, that being said....how many school of choice children are taking the place of village and township children in Spring Lake sports. 1 in 5 children in our schools (number given by Mr. Furton) are school of choice, how many of those students play sports for Spring Lake and bump the kids whose parents pay the taxes. I get that they want to be in our GREAT school system, but we are paying for them to get a GREAT education. I am pretty sure that some of them are involved in our athletic programs and eliminating some kids whose parents are paying the taxes and would like their child to have the "proven fact that being involved in a sport is key to good health and mental fitness and developing team and leadership schools". It is our responsibility to be fiscally responsible. Apparently what we have is so good that we have over 20% of our student body coming from other districts, just saying.... we don't need ALL that they are asking for.

ohreally

Wendy, while I respect your ideas...they are somewhat skewed. As kook points out, the difference in the age of the IS/MS vs. both ES buildings is 5 years. How is it that two buildings are in disrepair, but another (according to Mr. Furton's presentation) has "good bones" and will last another 40-50 years. Something tells me that he is correct on the IS/MS and that Holmes and Jeffers have very similar bones.

I also am not sure you have been in the buildings lately. Although there are some noted repairs that need to happen, both Holmes and Jeffers are FAR from outdated and will absolutely do a superb job of educating our children.

60 million is too high of a tag to hold over our kids. Vote NO and let's see how quick Mr. Furton and the board will move and present a more logical proposal to the community with the same millage rate and half the price.

One more thing, why do you suppose that the board and Mr. Furton rolled this all into one proposal? I truly believe that their angle is "it's for the kids" and as a result give us the other Cadillac options that we want too. Allendale recently had a bond and split it into 3 categories...SL could have EASILY done that and allowed for the community to choose priorities for OUR KIDS.

jessesflower28

I am so sick of hearing it is for the kids. No it is not. And Ohreally, to let you know I have been in Jeffers and it is not that bad. Not sure about Holmes. Jeffers had a beautiful remodel and addition put on not too long ago. If we were doing things for the kids, it would be stuff like providing lunches that arent disgusting (even teachers have stated) or not having 3 kids to a seat on the bus with a bus ride that can last up to an hour at times. Those are things that are "for the kids" not this idea. The only thing for the kids I do agree with is the technology. Now that is for the kids!

wendyswenson

Just to respond, I have been in the buildings, as I have been an active parent that volunteers in our schools. I see a crazy number of extension cords being used just to manage the electrical needs in the classroom. The heating and cooling are awful, either being freezing cold or crazy hot. As much as I would like to say that the "School of Choice" keep our children from participating, that just isn't true. They factor in the remaining open spaces for available children once the SL kids are enrolled. If we didn't have the school of choice kids, we would not be able to offset the budget slashes from the state.

Look, I am all about fiscal management, but something will need to be done and personally for the cost of filling up my gas tank a few times, having facilities that will maintain my property values and prepare our kids for the world ahead of them... I AM ALL FOR IT. My children will be gone from SL by the time this has been completed, but I believe in my community and what we need to do. Habitat for Humanity used to refurbish old houses until they realized it cost more for them to do that than to build new ones. That used to tick me off until I really started thinking about what would have to be done to strip these buildings to the "bones" and do what you suggest. What do you suggest you will do with the kids while that is being done? This is not a summer only project. Should we just add tons of portables around the area until the bones are rebuilt? Think about the logistics and the hidden costs that will pop up once the layers come off. I have a Master's Degree in Engineering and know all about the surprise unknowns. I know having young ones walk between portables is not only undesirable but also not safe.

I also am not happy that my kids have to drive to the HS, suit up for the Award Winning Marching Band, drive to the MS, and then drive back to the HS to pack up their uniforms and instruments. There are over 115 kids in the band. How safe is this???

Please, there are a lot more at stake than the fear of a "mega school". At the end of the day, all I hear is fear rather than trusting our teachers to provide the proper input to design an awesome school for our future productive citizens!

jessesflower28

That is ridicules...a steak dinner?? You cant compare a steak dinner compared to this bond. And the part that really gets me is I havent seen numbers. Where are the numbers in black and white the breakdown for this bond (even to the landscaping) and the breakdown to do the maintenance on the schools now. You know like the roof they said we need a new one of, how much is that? So considering there really hasnt been a full plan, I dont feel that I can just turn over money to people that clearly dont know how to handle it. Like you mention wendy about all the driving you have to do back and forth. Wouldn't all been planned out when they built the new HS. Or wouldnt this of all been planned out before putting our money into Jeffers and then have it wasted just to tear it down. If this plan Mr. Furton has is such a good idea and would only cost someone the price of a steak dinner dont you think most of the community would not have a problem passing the bond and it wouldnt be so controversial?

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