Enslen: ‘Everyone is Positive’ about Tax Request

On May 2, voters in the Kent ISD region will be asked to approve a 0.9 mill tax for local school districts, generating $211 per student to maintain programs, improve services and meet other needs. School News Network is offering information on what the millage means for each of the 20 districts in the Kent ISD. Today we focus on Thornapple Kellogg Schools. SNN spoke with Superintendent Tom Enslen.

How much revenue would your district gain from the millage in the first year?
“The amount of new money, depending on the student count, would be in excess of $650,000. It would be a great shot in the arm for sure.”

What would you spend that increased revenue on, and how would this help your students?
The money would go to maintaining educational offerings, attracting and retaining staff, increasing community enrichment programs, keeping the current level of technology and district facility improvements such as roofs, parking lots and windows.

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If the millage were to fail, what changes or cuts would you have to make next school year?
Without the millage the district could not maintain current programs, class size and technology needs, Enslen said. Current programming and the offerings and opportunities available for students would be affected.

“Opportunities for cutting are really disappearing,” Enslen said, “and eventually it will affect the kids, and that’s what we’re looking to avoid.”

Thornapple Kellogg Superintendent Tom Enslen Although cuts would not be made immediately, he said, a failed millage would mean “we would start down the road of cuts again.”

Protected from cuts would be technology upgrades that have been made possible through monies from a $6 million bond voters approved in 2014. It’s also being used to pay for facility renovations and replacements, security improvements and transportation.

What objections have you heard, if any, from your community, and what is your response?
“I haven’t heard any,” said Enslen, who has been meeting with small groups in the community to explain the millage. “Everyone is positive. Our confidence level is very high in this passing. This community has always been supportive of the school system. I have no reason to believe they won’t be this time around.”


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Linda Odette
Linda Odette is a freelance writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism. She’s worked primarily as an editor in feature departments at newspapers in West Michigan, including the Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Holland Sentinel. She lives in East Grand Rapids near the Eastown edge, has a teenage son and a daughter in college. Read Linda's full bio


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