District asks millage increase for improved facilities, technology

Godfrey-Lee students use laptops. The district plans to replace technology, including aging laptops, with Chromebooks, using sinking fund dollars if the levy passes Tuesday, May 8

Voters will head to the polls Tuesday, May 8 to consider a sinking fund to pay for  facility maintenance and improvements, as well as technology upgrades including new classroom Chromebooks.

If approved, the fund would generate about $300,000 annually for safety, energy, security and technology improvements, said Superintendent Kevin Polston. The 3-mill, 10-year sinking fund would replace the district’s existing 1.9976-mill fund, which expires this year.

Related: Superintendent: millage renewal approvals ‘essential’ for district

On average, property owners would see a $34 annual increase on their property taxes, based on the average $68,000 value of a house in the district.

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

Sinking funds allow school districts to levy a property tax, the revenue from which is set aside for use as needed. In 2016, the Michigan Legislature authorized sinking funds to be used for technology and security upgrades, in addition to building repairs and renovations. Without a sinking fund the district’s general fund must pay for maintenance and technology, Polston said.

The fund would be used for the following:

  • 1 mill 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.
  • Replacing the 20-year-old phone system, classroom projectors and the district’s Wi-Fi server.

Other projects could 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.
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. Besides covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network, she writes freelance for the travel industry. Read Erin's full bio

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