Funding to Enhance STEM Activities, Hire Literacy Coaches

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 Lowell Area Public Schools. SNN spoke with Superintendent Greg Pratt.

How much revenue would your district gain from the millage in the first year?
Just over $800,000

What would you spend that increased revenue on, and how would this help your students?
“We’d like to hire literacy coaches to make sure students read at grade level by the end of third grade,” Pratt said. “We would also set aside money to add science, technology, engineering and math activities at the high school, and for technology to make sure all students have access equally.”

Superintendent Greg PrattIf the millage were to fail, what changes or cuts would you have to make next school year?
“The pressure would probably be in those areas where we provide interventions such as reading, primarily in grades K-6,” Pratt said. “I’m not saying we won’t try to do everything we can” to keep those programs as they are now, “but we just don’t know, with state changes for at-risk dollars (and) the governor’s proposed budget still unclear.” If the enhancement millage fails, he said, “it really puts pressure on us to keep those things in place.”

What objections have you heard, if any, from your community, and what is your response?
“If there is any objection, it’s from those who just don’t want to see any increase in their taxes,” he said. “The majority of the feedback has been very positive.”

Pratt added that some community members have asked for clarification about why this is a Kent ISD millage, and specifically, why can’t the district ask for it?

“It’s been crucial to explain that the district can ask for bonds to build and maintain our buildings, but that this (enhancement millage) is the only avenue that can increase our daily expenditures in the classroom,” he said.


Strong Schools Strong Communities

Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them.


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