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Tuesday’s Votes a ‘Double Win’ for a Growing District


By fall of 2019, Byron Center High students will have an expanded high school, adding room to grow for the burgeoning district.

“I’m totally excited,” Superintendent Dan Takens said about a “double win”: overwhelming approval Tuesday of the district’s $68.5 million bond proposal –- an eight-year extension that will provide $40 million for the high school expansion – and approval of the Kent ISD enhancement millage that will add $211 per pupil to 20 Kent County school districts’ coffers.

Voters passed the Byron Center bond proposal by a 3,218 to 1,809 vote margin. Because of residential and commercial growth in the area, the extension will not result in an increase to property taxes.

“It helps tremendously, as enrollment projections over the next five years continue to be at a 10 percent increase,” Takens said.

Up to 200 more students are expected to be enrolled at the high school, 8500 Burlingame Ave. SW, in five years. Currently 1,100 students are enrolled, and the building is fully occupied. “It provides a tremendous amount of release for capacity at the high school because we are full and will continue to grow,” Takens said.

Construction will begin this summer on a two-story addition, including 13 classrooms and a new media center between the Van Singel Fine Arts Center and the main office, fronting 84th Street SW. Parking will be reconfigured, adding about 120 parking spots for student parking to the front of the school, so all students come through the main entrance, improving safety and security.

A new hallway through the southwest corner of the academic area will improve congestion in the hallway, and classrooms will receive new paint and flooring.

The bond also will fund reconfigured space and three new classrooms at the Byron Center Early Childhood Center. Entrances at Marshall Elementary and Nickels Intermediate School will be secured so visitors walk directly into the office when entering the school. Parking would also be reworked to create better traffic flow.

Other projects to be funded by the bond include: buses and technology, including Chromebooks for kindergarten through eighth-graders and MacBook Airs for ninth-12th graders; and a multipurpose turf field at West Middle School, where new tennis courts will replace courts currently at the high school on space that will become parking.

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Original SNN article on bond

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She 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, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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