East Grand Rapids — A three-story, 61,000-square-foot addition and a 100,000-square-foot renovation of academic spaces at East Grand Rapids High School are two of the big-ticket items in the district’s upcoming bond proposal, which will go before voters on Nov. 7.
The $158.9 million proposal is expected to generate roughly $118 million for work at the high school. Those dollars would fund the construction of new STEAM spaces and a new entry with more natural light, as well as renovations to the Performing Arts Center, music areas, locker rooms and classrooms. The school would also see improvements to athletic facilities, including renovations at Memorial Field, a new track and the addition of artificial turf on the track infield.
In addition to the extensive work at the high school, the bond would also generate about $40 million to fund five new classrooms at Woodcliff Early Childhood Center, and various other improvements district-wide, with no expected increase to the district’s current tax rate of 9.95 mills, according to information shared by EGRPS.
Anthony Morey, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, said the proposal has been in the works for about 18 months, and input from students and staff about the needs of the district was actively sought.
“The No. 1 thing we were hoping to have in that process was the critical voices of students and staff to (discuss) how teaching and learning occurs at the high school and how the facility works or could be improved,” Morey said. “Really, the bond is a reflection, or an outcome, from that engagement work.”
Superintendent Dr. Heidi Kattula said students support the district’s plan.
“Our students are fully engaged, our staff are engaged — very much behind what opportunities this will provide,” Kattula said. “We front-loaded this entire process off of student and staff voice and need.”
Coffee Hours with Superintendent Heidi Kattula at the high-school learning commons:
10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10
8 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24
A PTO presentation with Assistant Superintendent Anthony Morey is at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10 at Lakeside Elementary.
If the bond is approved, the Woodcliff work would come first, said Kattula.
“We already know, here at WECC we can’t meet demand, so we’re jumping on that first because it’s also a space where we don’t have to take anything offline,” Kattula said. “We could develop that and meet the need at the foundational level of our littles coming up, not only for early childhood during the day, but for before- and after-school care, too.”
The high-school work would follow, she said.
The bond would also bring upgrades to HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems, and to school safety and security systems.
If the proposal is approved, construction would start in 2024 and continue until 2030. Morey said the district is working to ensure learning is not interrupted. There would be no portable classrooms and no reduction in course offerings, and the district would take steps to “mitigate any impact to the community during construction,” he said.
Planning for the Future
Both Kattula and Morey emphasized that the proposed improvements would help sustain the district for generations.
“Through any build, you’re always trying to think about the next 10, 20, 30 years out,” Kattula said. “We know what students need in order to thrive, and that’s access and opportunity as well as flexible learning spaces, which all of these would provide.”
She added: “We’re trying to build opportunities for our kids to learn more authentically.”
The district is spreading the word about its upcoming bond proposal through various public engagement opportunities.
Read more from East Grand Rapids:
• Plot twist: young authors, illustrators lead the way
• Putting out the welcome mat