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Bond would fund rebuild of junior high to mirror high school

Voters will consider $24.9 million proposal

Wyoming – Voters will be asked to consider a $24.9 million bond proposal on Tuesday, May 3, that would go toward renovating Wyoming Junior High to look like the new Wyoming High School building.

“Really, having seen the finished product at the high school – everyone’s so excited about it – we’d love to replicate it at the junior high,” said Matt Lewis, assistant superintendent for finance and administrative services. 

The debt millage rate would remain the same 5.65 mills that it has been at since 2016. Bond approval would not raise taxes, Lewis said, because growth in the taxable valuation of property in the district over the last several years allows the district to maintain its current millage level if the bond passes.  See more information here.

The junior high, at 2125 Wrenwood St. SW, is one of the district’s oldest and largest buildings. The oldest portion of the building dates back to the original structure from 1926. There were major additions in 1957, 1959 and 1979.

Approval of the bond would add to about $11 million in renovations already planned for the school, including more than $3 million in major upgrades to the Dan Heintzelman Fine Arts Center. Those funds are earmarked from the district’s $79.5 million bond issue, which was passed in 2017, and work is slated to begin in the summer of 2023. 

Creating ‘Optimal Conditions’ for Learning

Wyoming Junior High Principal Alex Schukow said he looks forward to improvements at the facility.

“The renovation of Wyoming High School has enhanced the education experience for scholars, providing new, flexible and common areas, extending the learning experience beyond the classroom,” Schukow said. “At Wyoming Junior High School, we eagerly await the transformation of the school building with new structures, updated spaces and current technologies that provide our staff with the best tools to deliver high quality instruction, create a welcoming school environment, increase school safety and promote a culture of excellence. 

“A fully renovated school creates the optimal conditions for our scholars’ learning, growth and achievement.” 

If the bond is approved, the timeline of the project would remain the same, but renovations would include construction of a large two-story addition. The fine arts center would become a stand-alone building, Lewis said.

When planning for district-wide bond construction projects, Lewis said administrators had hoped any extra money from 2017 bond savings could go toward the junior high building. However, increasing construction costs haven’t allowed that to happen.

The ballot language, approved by the Board of Education Jan. 24, is broad and doesn’t specify the junior high as the major ticket item. Lewis said that will give the district the option to use any extra funds for additional projects at elementary buildings, if the junior high project does not end up costing as much as planned. 

“If the ballot language specified just Wyoming Junior High, those (extra) funds could not be used at other sites,” he said.

Watch: Video showcases new Wyoming High School

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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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