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District Seeking New Tax for Facilities, Technology

Community information meetings on the Godfrey-Lee sinking fund proposal are scheduled at 6:30 p.m. March 20 in the media center at Lee Middle/High School and 6:30 p.m. April 18 in the gym at the Early Childhood Center.

The district is planning facility maintenance and improvements, and technology upgrades including purchasing new classroom Chromebooks, if voters pass a new sinking fund in a May 8 ballot request.

If approved, the fund would generate about $300,000 annually for district improvements in safety, energy, security and technology, said Superintendent Kevin Polston.

The new 3-mill, 10-year sinking fund would replace the district’s existing 1.9976-mill sinking fund, which expires this year. On average, property owners would see a $34 annual increase on their property taxes. The average value of a house in the district is $68,000.

The district is looking to replace aging technology by passing a new sinking fund

“As stewards of taxpayer dollars it is important that we maintain our buildings,” Polston said, noting that minor maintenance needs can fester into big problems and expenses. “I believe our community expects the environment our students are in to be on par with that of other communities.”

Replacing Aging Laptops

Sinking funds allow school districts to levy a property tax, the revenue from which is set aside for use as needed on things already specified as allowable uses by state law.

A proposed sinking fund would provide updated technology for students districtwide

In 2016, the Michigan Legislature passed a bill to allow sinking fund millages to be used for technology and security upgrades, in addition to building repairs and renovations. Without a sinking fund, Polston said, the district’s general fund must be used for maintenance and technology needs.

Polston said the district would earmark 1 mill of the fund for technology, including replacing aging student laptops with Chromebooks at a cost of about $167 each. Plans are to continue having enough devices for each student in sixth through 12th grades for use at school, and to add more to elementary classrooms.

The sinking fund could pay for two cycles of technology replacement. Other technology needs include replacing the 20-year-old phone system, classroom projectors and the district’s Wi-Fi server.

Other sinking fund projects would include:

  • New carpet throughout the district over the next 10 years
  • Playground improvements at Godfrey Elementary
  • Roof, sidewalks, entryway and railing improvements
  • New decking around portable facilities
  • Irrigation on the practice field behind the Godfrey Early Childhood Center
  • LED lighting
  • Climate-control systems with efficient heating and cooling.

Godfrey-Lee plans to allocate 1 mill of a requested sinking fund to technology, such as the iPad this student is using
Godfrey-Lee plans to allocate 1 mill of a requested sinking fund to technology, such as the iPad this student is using

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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

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