Multiple Districts — Tuesday’s Election Day turned out to be a good day for education in Kent County, with voters passing bond issues, sinking funds and/or operating millages in all six districts with ballot proposals. But the margin was tight in Caledonia, where just 64 votes separated the yes and no voters, ultimately giving the OK to a $61 million supplemental bond.
Following are the results in more detail, with unofficial vote tallies as reported by the Kent County Clerk’s office as well as unofficial results from Ottawa County (Grandville Public Schools), Allegan County (Caledonia Community Schools) and Barry County (Caledonia Community Schools):
Caledonia Community Schools
Requested: A $61 million bond to fund construction of a new Dutton Elementary School, football stadium renovations, and other projects previously removed from the 2020 bond to cut costs.
Voters said: YES, 3,019; No, 2,955
With 64 votes making the difference, voters agreed to complete the vision of the 2020 bond and make necessary repairs to buildings and facilities, upgrade technology and security and fund Phase 2 of the Calplex athletic facility. The district will also begin the process of building the new school this summer.
“This supplemental bond will provide a new Dutton Elementary, a higher quality facility for all of our students to learn in a much safer location for decades to come,” Dutton Principal Shawn Veitch said.
Superintendent Dedrick Martin said he believed in the district’s track record of success in and out of the classroom, and that strong schools build strong communities.
“This is an investment in our schools, students and teachers,” he said. “We now have the opportunity to upgrade our academic learning environment and it doesn’t increase the tax rate.”
The bond does not raise existing property tax rates but extends the existing school debt repayment period from 2050 to 2055.
All bond records will be available on the district website and subject to regular independent audits to promote accountability and the best fiscal practices, according to district officials.
“We want to thank the voters in our community for supporting this bond proposal,” Martin said. “Our continued investment in our schools will help Caledonia stay competitive and enable our students to receive real-world, hands-on experiences in upgraded facilities so they can better compete in the global marketplace.”
Comstock Park Public Schools
Requested: A $59.46 million bond issue to fund district-wide investments in safety and security, educational environments and health and efficiency. Proposed projects include parking lot improvements, exterior LED lighting, updating building access controls, improving air quality and technology upgrades, new buses, a new athletic facility, plus kitchen and cafeteria renovations.
Voters said: YES, 1,129; No, 697
The bond will not raise taxes above current rates and it extends the current debt tax levy of 9.95 mills for six years.
“The community has shown they are invested in the future of Comstock Park,” Superintendent Dave Washburn said. “With the continual improvements in the school district, we will continue to make Comstock Park Public Schools a great place to grow and learn, which benefits not only current students but future generations of students, and Comstock Park as a whole.”
He said the passage of the bond issue is the next step in activating the district’s strategic plan. Details of the progress of the bond program will be publicized in newsletters and social media.
East Grand Rapids Public Schools
Requested: Proposal 1 asked voters to renew the existing operating millage for six years and authorize 18 mills to be levied through 2029.
Voters said: YES, 1,724; No, 190
Requested: Proposal 2 asked voters to allow the district to authorize a Headlee override and bring its funding back up to 18 mills if the non-homestead millage in Proposal 1 were to drop below 18 mills in the future due to a Headlee Reduction.
Voters said: YES, 1,592; No, 313
Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Anthony Morey said he is grateful for the vote of confidence shown by the East Grand Rapids community.
“The strong community support for our schools continues to be one of the integral reasons for our district’s success,” Morey said. “Passing any question of importance is always a sizable challenge. Passing one with 90% community support is a true testament to our community’s engagement to learn and understand complex issues.
“In the most basic terms, passage of this millage means the district will continue to be funded at the level determined by the legislative process. More importantly, the district can continue to pursue advancing our strategic plan goals without the distraction of potential drastic funding cuts through the lapsing of our non-homestead millage.”
Grandville Public Schools
Requested: A four-year renewal of the district’s operating millage, which levies an 18-mill tax on non-homestead properties, plus a buffer of up to 1 mill in case of a Headlee Rollback.
Voters said: YES, 3,730; No, 2,455
The extra 1-mill buffer in this proposal means the district will be able to offset any funding loss that may occur during a Headlee Rollback (something it has experienced for the past seven years) and be able to receive most or all of its per-pupil funding from the state of Michigan.
“We are truly blessed to live in a community that is student-focused and values the importance of exceptional experiences for kids,” Superintendent Roger Bearup said. Successful passage of the millage “means that we can continue to maintain and strengthen our support systems for scholars in the areas of academic achievement, wellbeing and safety.”
Bearup also said the district is now planning to hire a safety director “to champion our processes, procedures, training, for staff and events.”
Kelloggsville Public Schools
Requested: Approval to reauthorize a non-homestead millage of 18 mills and to levy an additional 0.4569 mills, generating approximately $3.7 million in the first year for operations purposes.
Voters said: YES, 544; No, 340
With voter approval by 204 votes, this millage will fund operations through the 2024-25 school year. The community’s support for the millage shows its commitment to the district’s schools and students’ education, Assistant Superintendent Eric Alcorn said in a statement.
“We are fortunate to have such dedicated staff and community members who value education and understand the importance of investing in our schools,” he said. “This is excellent news for our school district, as the funds generated by this millage will go a long way in supporting our schools.”
The millage’s approval adds a buffer of 0.4569 mills to the rate through the life of the millage in case of another Headlee Rollback. The buffer will restore millage lost in per-pupil funding if this occurs.
Northview Public Schools
Requested: Proposal 1 asked for a 20-year renewal of a 0.6973 recreational millage for public and building playgrounds, including the Northview Community Fitness and Aquatic Center.
Voters said: YES, 2,269; No, 786
Requested: Proposal 2 sought a 10-year renewal of Northview’s 1.1472-mill building and site sinking fund, a savings account the district can use for infrastructure projects and repairs.
Voters said: YES, 2,275; No, 787
Of the passage of Prop. 1, Superintendent Scott Korpak released this statement: “The Northview community is known for its generosity and helping others. The (renewal) is a gift to our families from the Northview community because it ensures the practice in Northview of not charging middle and high school students to participate in athletics or band. The Northview community is also proud of their school district, and they hold us to a high standard for the stewardship of their schools and facilities.”
Alexis Stark, Karen Gentry, Sean Bradley and Morgan Jarema contributed to this report