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District to have two proposals on Nov. 7 ballot

Capital improvements, millage restoration to be decided

Forest Hills — District voters will be asked on Nov. 7 to approve a $340 million request to fund capital improvements for eight years, as well as a millage restoration expected to generate $395,000 for the district. 

There is no anticipated increase over the current tax rate for either proposal.

If approved, all of the district’s 17 school facilities would undergo capital improvements, which, depending on needs, could include new learning environments, roofing, mechanical, paving and playgrounds. 

Also under the proposal:

  • Updated athletic facilities at all three high schools
  • A new aquatics center that would include a 50-meter pool and a community pool
  • Fill in the pool at the Community and Aquatic Center, and repurpose and update the space
  • Capital improvements at the transportation center 
  • Capital improvements at the Fine Arts Center 
  • Life-cycle replacement of technology, buses and fixtures, furniture and equipment

“The modernizing of the learning spaces is continuing the work that was done with our 2018 proposal,” said Julie Davis, Forest Hills’ assistant superintendent of finance and operations. 

“We’re just excited for the potential to continue to modernize our learning spaces,” Davis said. “The transformation at those schools that are completed or partially completed is just amazing.”

Davis cited Orchard View Elementary as an example. By creating a locker commons, the building’s hallways became more open. New lighting was added, making the space brighter. There is more classroom visibility as safe glass was added and grade-level collaboration spaces were created.

District & Community Enrichment

The existing pool is about 30 years old, and its 25-meter lanes are too short to host postseason tournaments. The plan is to construct a new facility that would have two pools: one with 50-meter lanes to meet MSHAA tournament requirements and a second, smaller pool for community activities.

“Athletes like the pool a little bit cooler for swimming and competitions, and because our community often utilizes that same space, they would prefer the pool to be a little bit warmer,” Davis said.

The community is invited to see some of the capital improvements during the last of two bond informational meetings hosted by the district at 7 p.m. on Oct. 3 at Northern High School, 3801 Leonard St. NE.

The district has ideas for community enrichment programs in the current pool space, which would be filled in if the bond request is approved, and plans to seek input from the community on how they would like to see the space used.

Other athletics improvements, such as those to the tennis courts, would be made so the district could host postseason tournaments. 

Improvements also would make the athletic facilities similar at all three high schools, and the baseball and softball fields would be converted to artificial turf, allowing earlier access to fields in the spring and for use for other activities. Also, Northern and Eastern high schools would each have an auxiliary turf field. Currently, only Central High School has such a field. 

The second request on Nov. 7 is to restore the district’s non-residential (non-homestead) operating millage to the full 18 mills, which would generate about $395,000 for the district’s annual operating budget.

If approved, it would restore 0.5 mills lost by a reduction due to the 1978 Headlee Amendment, enacted to counter an increase on a property’s taxable value. The 0.5 mills would be about 50 cents on every $1,000 of taxable valuation and would be for a period of two years, 2024 and 2025. It would not increase taxes of owners of primary residences.

Read more from Forest Hills: 
Voters in three districts approve tax requests
Bond would improve classrooms, infrastructure, security

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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