No to mega-elementary school

To the Editor: I have followed the developments of the Spring Lake Bond issue, which will be voted on next Tuesday, November 5, by voters in the Spring Lake Public School District.
Oct 31, 2013

After attending the first general meeting over a year ago, and all three Wednesday night meetings this past month, plus a 40 minute conversation with our dynamic Superintendent, Dennis Furton, plus hours of research checking the rankings and MEAP scores in math and reading of the top 100 Michigan elementary schools (Spring Lake unfortunately does not make that list),  population of elementary schools (K to grade 4, 5, or 6), and teacher/pupil ratio), I will not support this bond issue.


First, an elementary school should be a small, neighborhood school. Almost all of the 100 top ranked Michigan elementary schools had less than 500 students-- most less than 400.  NONE had the 900+ students expected at the mega school described in this bond issue. Almost all K - 4 grades had less than half that number !  Can you imagine the line up of cars of anxious Pre-K or Kindergarten parents the first day of school at a school this size?  A school that envisions 20% of its population from school-of-choice parents (who aren't even voting on this $59.8 million bond issue.)

Second,  A third elementary school should be built on the other side of M-104.  The school district configuration makes no sense with our expanding population into the township, but cutting the size of the present Holmes and Jeffers schools by 200 students each (from approximately 450 to 250 students) and REBUILDING THE SCHOOLS at their current locations, should provide the necessary space to handle an "Early Five's" class as well as a Kindergarten, first, second, third, and fourth grade class.

Third.  If this bond issue PASSES, WE ARE COMMITTED TO THIS PLAN FOR AN ELEMENTARY MEGA SCHOOL and the demolishing of both Holmes and Jeffers schools.

Fourth.  If we put together a plan quickly that upgrades the middle school and the high school, rebuilds the Jeffers and Holmes schools, and builds a new third elementary school, we still may qualify for the benefits of the School Bond Loan Fund.

If you do not want an elementary mega school, Vote NO on November 5.

Joyce Verplank Hatton
Spring Lake



Stop fearing the unknown and trust our educators to design a school that will allow our children to benefit from the innovations we can provide them that are top in the industry. Every one screams "NO TO THE MEGA SCHOOL", really???? If you design it well, it is no different than what they have now, just utilizing common and improved resources such as a cafeteria. We don't need to build two schools and duplicate all of those resources. That in itself is fiscal irresponsibility. Consider all of the heating and cooling and other building requirements that can be consolidated. There are ways to design a facility that will not look like a college university. Stop the fear!

Joyce Verplank ...

The emphasis in my letter is on NEIGHBORHOOD schools-- and TRANSPORTATION-- and the SAFETY and SECURITY concerns that accompany our decision as to HOW MANY elementary schools we need AND their location. As an educator, I also would considerate it fiscally irresponsible to ignore these potential problems. And a NEW PRE-K to FOURTH GRADE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL on the north side of M-104 will alleviate the crowding at BOTH Jeffers and Holmes, allowing those two schools to be REBUILT with larger classrooms, etc., at their current locations. We would then have three new elementary schools with all the latest innovations.

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