Bond proposals would fund new schools, pool, safety and technology upgrades

Voters to consider requests on Nov. 5 ballot

Carmen Alexa, left, and Lily Dalstra celebrate their success with their Ozobot robots

Voters will be asked on the Nov. 5 ballot to approve two bond proposals totaling about $123.4 million, to fund improvements including a new middle school, preschool and swimming pool.

The requests reflect results of a community survey sent to 15,000 households last year. A committee of community members looked through the results, culminating in the bond proposals approved by the school board in July.

“We received thousands of responses to our survey,” Superintendent Roger Bearup said. “The process took place over the last year and a half. The proposals presented include the thoughtful work of two community groups utilizing the data given to them by the community. It is truly a community driven bond proposal.”

Residents can find out more about the proposals at two upcoming community forums, Oct. 1 and Oct. 29. Both will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Grandville Middle School Project Room.

Here’s a breakdown of the two requests.

Bond Issue Basics

Proposal 1 would increase the debt levy in 2020 by about 1.85 mills over the 2019 levy, generating a little over $94 million. Proposal 2, for a new swimming pool, would increase the debt levy in 2021 by about 0.69 mills over the 2020 levy, generating about $29.4 million.

The cost for the owner of a home with a $100,000 market value ($50,000 taxable value) would be about $137.50 per year; for a $200,000 home, $275 per year.  The bonds, to be issued in three separate series, would be levied for a maximum of 21 years in any one series.

source: Grandville Public Schools

A map showing the potential building and site relationships of the proposed Robotics and Engineering Center addition, natatorium (community swimming pool complex), and new middle school. They would be located just south of Grandville High School (courtesy of Grandville Public Schools)

Proposal 1

This bond generating about $94 million would focus on district growth and programming needs for STEM and other growing programs. It would also address the need for more space, with more apartments and housing units planned in the Grandville community. 

  • Long term-growth:
    – Approximately $57 million would go toward a new seventh and eighth grade building to be constructed by the high school. The current middle school would be converted to a fifth and sixth grade building. The remodeling of the current middle school would cost $4.7 million. 
    – A portion of an in-town building in the city of Grandville would be renovated into a new preschool to accommodate a growing number of families requesting preschool and child care. The site will be announced if the bond passes, officials say. 
    – Class sizes would be reduced to accommodate waiting lists for preschool programs with the addition of another preschool building and a new middle school. Schools in the district are currently at capacity, according to the district.
  • Dedicated program space: An addition to the Robotics and Engineering Center would house a K-12 robotics program and provide competition and storage space. 
  • Technology:  Instructional technology, such as multimedia equipment and upgrades to existing Chromebooks, would be provided to connect students and strengthen post-graduation employability
  • Music: Aging school-owned band and orchestra equipment would be replaced and additional instruments would be purchased for music at the elementary level.
  • Safety and security: Improved hardware and technology, such as bulletproof glass for interior classroom doors and locking mechanisms, would be installed across the district. 
  • Robotics: An addition would be built onto the Robotics & Engineering Center to accommodate more students and provide storage and construction space.
  • Learning Environment: Air conditioning would be installed in the current and new middle schools and five elementary schools. 
  • Transportation: The bus garage would be renovated. 

Proposal 2  

This proposal, generating about $29.4 million, would address the district’s aging pool facilities by creating a new, separate pool for the school and community.

With electrical and mechanical systems at the middle and high school pools nearing the end of their lifespans, replacing them would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, officials say. Existing pools also have functional limitations because of their configurations, according to the district.

Based on responses to the 2018 survey, a natatorium separate from the schools would allow the pool to be used by Grandville and Calvin Christian swim teams, as well as by the community, without impeding the school day. The new pool would be located just south of Grandville High School. Calvin Christian currently uses Grandville schools for swim, dive and water polo. The old pools would be repurposed into educational space.

A map showing the potential building and site relationships of the proposed Robotics and Engineering Center addition, natatorium (community swimming pool complex), and new middle school. They would be located just south of Grandville High School (courtesy of Grandville Public Schools)

The Costs 

Currently, homeowners in Grandville Public Schools have one of the lowest combined school district debt and sinking-fund levies in Kent and Ottawa counties (see chart). If both proposals pass, the new rate would still be below the average for both counties. Voters last approved a bond for the district in 2013, for $72.5 million.

If both proposals pass in November, bonds would be sold in three series. Series one would begin in 2020 and would cover the new middle school building, air conditioning, security, musical instruments, and renovations to the in-town early childhood building.

The bond for the community pool would be issued in 2021, while a 2022 bond would be used for the remainder of the new middle school construction as well as improvements to the fifth through sixth grade building (the current Grandville Middle School building). Robotics, technology, the bus garage and more security improvements would be addressed in 2024 with the series three bond.

“I am excited about the possibility of creating additional educational space to keep class sizes low at the younger levels, to have the ability to expand programming and strengthen the educational space of current programs such as the arts, and to be able to address the growth within the district over time,” Bearup said.

CONNECT

Bond Proposals in Detail

Hannah Lentz
A 2017 graduate of Grand Valley State University and a lifelong teacher’s kid, Hannah Lentz has worked as a journalist in and outside the Grand Rapids area for more than five years. After serving as editor-in-chief at the GVSU student newspaper, Hannah interned at the Leelanau Enterprise where she learned a lot about community journalism. In addition to her work for School News Network, Hannah has worked as a freelance blogger in the furniture industry, focusing on design trends, and as a social media manager for World Medical Relief in Detroit. Read Hannah's full bio or email Hannah.

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