District to Ask for Tax Renewals on Aug. 2

Byron Center High School is facing full capacity

Superintendent Dan Takens and the Board of Education will ask voters May 2, 2017 to consider a bond issue to fund expanded facility needs to address increased teaching and learning capacity due to sustained student growth.

But first, the district is focused on renewals up for vote Aug. 2 of the non-homestead operating millage, which provides funds to operate the district, and its sinking-fund levy, also known as the building and site fund.

The 10-year, 18-mill Non-Homestead Act assesses commercial and industrial property and second homes and generates about$4.6 million annually of the district’s $36 million operating budget.

The 10-year sinking-fund levy generates $1 million per year, and is earmarked for facility improvements including roofs, parking lots, heating and cooling infrastructure and maintenance of the community pool. The reauthorized levies would maintain current rates for another 10 years, and would not bring a tax increase.

District officials say the price tag and specifics on what the May bond would fund are still being finalized, and the process will include further community and staff input. Takens and board members are reflecting on 2015 Growth Research Community Survey responses and plan to host community meetings this fall. Residents also will receive a follow-up survey this fall.

If approved by voters next year, the bond would not increase taxes for homeowners because of the district’s growing commercial tax base, including shopping center TangerOutlets, which opened last summer at 350 84th St. SW.

“That’s the fortunate thing when we go for the bond, there’s no millage increase. We are blessed with an ever increasing industrial, non-homestead base,” Takens said. “Further, BCPS has refinanced $91,988,616 of existing bonds for a cost reduction of $12.43 million of principal and interest payments.”

Creating Room to Grow

With 2 percent enrollment growth anticipated annually for the next 10 years in the 3,840-student district, the high school is inching toward its 1,200-student capacity with 1,070 students currently enrolled.

“If that 2 percent growth continues, and all indicators show it will, the high school will be out of capacity within five years and thus (we) have to move on that,” Takens said.

Nearly 800 community members — 684 district parents and 164 staff members — responded last year to an online Growth Research Community Survey seeking input on options to accommodate the growth in the best interest of students.

The district approved a $23.6 million bond extension 2011, which funded building improvements including renovations and additions at Brown Elementary.

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2012. Read Erin's full bio

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