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Growing district seeks input about capacity needs

Community members are invited to give input on steps to address the district’s growing enrollment and capacity needs, including adding a fourth elementary school.

A three-part Community Forum Series on growth and capacity is designed so one meeting feeds into the next. Participants are asked to attend all three, said Superintendent Dan Takens.

Meetings are:

  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25 at Nickels Intermediate, 8638 Byron Center Ave. SW, covering background information, demographics and growth and a possible bond proposal
  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct, 22 at Brown Elementary, 8064 Byron Center Ave. SW, covering recommended solutions and a budget
  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Byron Center High School, 8500 Burlingame Ave. SW, to conclude the discussions and potentially make final recommendations

The Board of Education is considering placing a bond proposal on the May 5, 2020 ballot to fund more K-6 space. Because the district could extend its existing debt, the current millage levy would not increase.

Enrollment has grown an average of 2.3 % per year over the past five years, and last year spiked by 182 new students. Enrollment was 4,157 last in 2018-2019, compared to 3,751 in 2013-2014, according to mischooldata.org.

Growth is due to families moving into the district and new housing developments. 

“We are very pleased with the growth. It’s a great indicator that what we are doing here is something families want to be part of,” Takens said. “We are really excited to hear from the community how best to address that.”

Brown, Marshall and Countryside elementary schools and Nickels Intermediate School, a 5/6 building, are reaching capacity. Another elementary school would allow for growth. “If growth continues, we will start to have major capacity strains in two to three years,” Takens said. “We need to start moving forward sooner rather than later.”

 A $70,000 square foot addition at Byron Center High School opened in August, funded by a bond passed in 2017.

Also, an electronic survey for further input will be sent by email to parents and posted on the district website.

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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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