Northview voters to decide no-increase school improvements proposal

If the May 5 bond is approved by voters, the bus and parent dropoff lanes at East Oakview Elementary would be separated. Congestion on side streets is hoped to also be eased by the measure

Northview Public Schools will ask voters on May 5 to decide a $36.7 million, no-mill increase bond request.

Proposed improvements include adding multi-purpose spaces and upgrading major systems and classrooms at elementary and middle schools, as well as to parking and security. Improvements to the Performing Arts Center and system upgrades also are planned at the high school.

The district last year hired Rockford Construction to assess buildings, and findings include that many systems and materials are at or near the end of their useful life. 

By law, general fund dollars cannot be spent on facility maintenance and improvement. All district buildings were constructed between the late 1950s and early 1970s. Northview High School was last renovated in 2014, and elementary and middle schools were last renovated in 1998.

Northview Public Schools proposed $36.7 million in improvements

Estimated cost breakdown:
• $24.5 million: building renovations
• $5 million: technology
• $3.2 million: furnishings           
• $1.5 million: buses
• $2 million: athletics and playgrounds
• $0.5 million: fine arts

“All our furniture is the old style, stationary type, and all of that would be upgraded to modern, flexible seating,” Deputy Superintendent Liz Cotter said. She added that classrooms in all K-8 buildings are currently without air conditioning. That would be added if the millage is approved.

“Climate comfort means that it’s easier for teachers to teach, and for kids to learn,” Cotter said.

An online survey that garnered nearly 600 responses and two community forums were held last school year. Nearly 80% of those surveyed agreed that buildings are well maintained, but that some buildings and sites are outdated and in need of replacement or updates.

Community members also weighed in on the overall condition of district facilities — with most giving a grade of B or C — and ranked East Oakview Elementary and Highlands Middle as being most in need of improvements.

Those surveyed also prioritized safety & security, infrastructure & building mechanical systems, and technology as their top three concerns.

“All entries are card access and lock during school days, but not vestibules that force visitors to go through the main office,” Cotter said. “Between this bond proposal and some sinking fund dollars, all our buildings would get vestibules.”

The sinking fund is a savings account where districts may hold voter-approved local millage revenue in order to pay for unexpected projects or repairs. Those monies must be used for specific purposes, including construction, building repair and security.

Cotter said the plan addresses major issues identified by community members, and said an outreach committee is planned to be formed to spread word of the May 5 request and encourage people to vote.

CONNECT

Northview Public Schools May 2020 bond information – breakdown by building

May 8, 2019 community forum feedback summary

NVPS bond request information brochure

Included in the May 5 bond request is to construct security vestibules at all school building front entrances, such as at Highlands Middle School

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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 or email Morgan.

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