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Voters in multiple districts to decide school funding questions

Multiple Districts — Tuesday, May 7 is election day for several Kent County communities. Voters in Comstock Park, Kenowa Hills, Lowell and Thornapple Kellogg districts will see school-related proposals on their ballots. 

Comstock Park Public Schools

The district’s 10-year sinking fund is up for renewal and proposed is a no-tax increase of 0.9576 of a mill. The current sinking fund millage will expire with the 2024 tax levy. If approved May 7, the levy would be authorized through 2034 and generate about $500,000 annually for the maintenance and repair of facilities, infrastructure, technology and buses. 

Superintendent David Washburn said, “We all understand that strong schools are extremely important to our community, and these allowable expenses would greatly enhance our district for years to come.”

Read more about Comstock Park’s proposal.

Kenowa Hills Public Schools

KHPS is asking voters to consider a zero-millage tax rate increase over the current tax rate to fund additions and upgrades to outdoor activity and learning spaces. If approved, the proposed bond request would generate $37 million for the district to use toward building safety improvements, new baseball and softball athletic complexes, turf and lighting installation, tennis and pickleball courts and a multi-purpose field for soccer and lacrosse. 

“We have one of the lowest debt millage rates in our region, and we have the capacity for more without changing the current millage rate,”  Superintendent Gerald Hopkins said. “When you invest in your district, it attracts families to live in your community and go to your schools.”

Read more about Kenowa Hills’ proposal.

Lowell Area Schools

The district is asking voters to decide a bond proposal for $104 million to fund facility improvements, including a $29.9 million renovation of Cherry Creek Elementary and $32.4 million in improvements at Lowell High School. If approved, no tax rate increase is expected from the current debt millage rate of 7 mills.  

“The bond focuses on modernizing learning spaces, improving fine arts, athletics and community spaces and updating infrastructure,” said Superintendent Nate Fowler. “The story at the high school is about aging equipment. In the auditorium, lighting, sound —  all of the things that go into running an auditorium — are 30-plus years old.”

Read more about Lowell’s proposal.

Thornapple Kellogg Public Schools 

TKPS is asking voters to consider renewing the district’s current rate of 18 mills on non-homestead property, including industrial, commercial, business, rental (properties) and second homes. The non-homestead operating millage equates to more than $3.8 million in funding each year and represents more than 8% of the district’s annual general fund budget. The renewal is not a new tax, nor will it increase current tax rates.

“This renewal is essential for Thornapple Kellogg schools to continue to have the full funding necessary to continue to thrive and improve,” Superintendent Craig McCarthy said. “Losing these funds would have a major impact on the quality of the educational programming offered to our students.”  

Read more about Thornapple Kellogg’s proposal. 

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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