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Building bond passed in Wyoming, operating and sinking funds in Kent City

Wyoming, Kent City  – Wyoming Junior High will soon resemble the new Wyoming High School building, thanks to a $24.9 million bond proposal district voters approved Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, Kent City voters approved five-year renewals of the school district’s operating and sinking funds. Neither district vote will raise residents’ existing tax rates. Here’s a breakdown of the unofficial results. 

Wyoming Public Schools 

Requested: $24.9 million bond proposal

Voters said: YES: 2,066; No: 1,930 

The approval allows for the culmination of districtwide renovations that are transforming district facilities and have received “tremendous, positive feedback,” said Superintendent Craig Hoekstra, who said he was “on cloud nine” Wednesday morning.

The renovation will add to about $11 million in upgrades already earmarked for the junior high from the district’s $79.5 million bond issue passed in 2017. The broad ballot language will enable the district to fund other projects if the junior high project doesn’t cost as much as projected. 

The new high school, which opened in 2020, has enhanced students’ education experience with improvements including construction of a two-story addition. The renovated junior high will also have a two-story addition.

“Before we passed (the bond) in 2017, our kids would visit other communities for athletics and arts and say, ‘That was really nice. Why can’t we have that?’” Hoektra said.

He and other staff members and administrators dreamed of providing them with state of the art facilities. 

“That dream came to life as a result of the community coming together,” Hoekstra said.

The debt millage will remain at the same 5.65 mills it has been since 2016, because growth in district property values doesn’t require raising the rate. 

Hoekstra expressed gratitude for the expertise of Matt Lewis, assistant superintendent for finance and administrative services, who saw the potential for another bond that would not increase the levy.

Moving forward, the plan is to demolish part of the existing building at 2125 Wrenwood St. SW and build an addition into the parking lot. (The building was previously a high school and no longer needs as much parking as a junior high.)

Construction will follow the original schedule, he said, with work scheduled in 2023 and 2024 and completed for the 2024-2025 school year.

Kent City Community Schools 

By Abigail Ham

Requested: Five-year renewals of the district’s non-homestead operating millage and its sinking fund for facility maintenance and improvements

Voters said: Non-homestead operating millage: YES, 499; No, 283

Sinking fund: YES: 422; No: 248

Sixty-four percent of voters approved the non-homestead operating fund millage, which provides about 4% of the district’s total budget. The 17.7881-mill operating millage is levied only on businesses, commercial and investment properties, vacation homes and rental properties, not principal residences. It is expected to bring in about $609,355 in revenue in 2023.

The sinking fund renewal passed with 63% of voters approving. The  0.9783-mill fund is expected to bring in about $242,911 in 2023 for building maintenance and upgrades, such as boiler work and resurfacing floors. 

Overall voter turnout for both proposals was 16.84%, up from 9.5% turnout for district proposals in 2018.

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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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