Bond would improve classrooms, infrastructure, security

District voters will be asked Nov. 6 to approve a $130 million request at no increase to taxpayers to fund capital improvements over eight years.

The majority of the bond – which the Board of Education voted in July to put on the ballot – would go to fund improvements to the more than 550 classrooms and learning areas throughout the district. That includes updated technology infrastructure, reconfiguration and furnishing learning spaces and media center improvements. Improvements would be phased in over eight years, and teachers, administrators and students would be able to give input, said district communications manager Elizabeth Brink.

Improved safety and security measures in district buildings also are in the plans, as well as upgrading aging systems, such as mechanical, electrical and plumbing.

As proposed, it also would fund relocation and construction of district administrative offices from a 1951 former elementary building at Cascade Road SE to the Fine Arts Center campus near Forest Hills Avenue and Ada Drive. The current building would be sold to offset the cost, which is estimated to account for less than 6 percent of the bond request.

According to the school district’s architect, and the Administration Task Force findings and recommendations, the integrity of the building is failing, and many building systems are far beyond their useful life cycle. “The cost of replacing building components such as roofing, heating and cooling, electrical and plumbing systems, and finishes is more expensive than a new building,” Brink wrote in an email.

Public schools cannot spend bond dollars on operational expenses such as employee salaries and benefits, school supplies and textbooks.

CONNECT

Read: Bond request information

Watch: Forest Hills millage request information video

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. Read Morgan's full bio

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