Voters approved tax proposals in Caledonia, Comstock Park, East Grand Rapids, Kelloggsville, Northview, Rockford and Thornapple Kellogg

A Clean Sweep: Voters in Seven Kent Districts Approve Funding Requests

by School News Network  

Tuesday was a good day for schools and students in Kent ISD, as voters approved tax proposals in all seven districts that requested them. Residents supported requests ranging from $3.6 million to $76.1 million in Caledonia, Comstock Park, East Grand Rapids, Northview, Rockford, and Thornapple Kellogg. The funds will pay for building and grounds repairs and improvements, increased safety measures, technology upgrades and transportation needs.

Voters also approved a request by Kelloggsville Public Schools to renew its state-authorized, non-homestead property tax levy of 18.2044 mills for operations.

"This outcome is a great show of support for our schools," said Kevin Konarska, superintendent of Kent ISD. "I know how important the proposals were to each of our districts. I'm so happy for them, and grateful to the voters."

Here is a breakdown of results by district.

Caledonia

$41 million bond issue – Y: 1,991 (71%)  N: 810 (29%)

Voters approved by a comfortable margin a 7-mill tax levy to fund a $41 million bond. It will not increase tax rates as it extends the current bond payment schedule.

The bond will pay for several improvements, including $28 million for a new building for ninth-graders; $5.9 million in buildings and grounds improvements; $4.5 million in technology upgrades; and $2.6 million for safety and security measures.

"We are very excited by the overwhelming support from our parents and community members," Superintendent Randy Rodriguez said. "We have worked collaboratively with our community to build a vision for the future that will best serve our students in Caledonia.  We are so proud to serve a community that rolls up its sleeves to make a difference."

Comstock Park

$3.6 Million Building and Site Fund Renewal -- Y: 591 (71%) N: 237 (29%)

Voters easily renewed Comstock Park Public Schools' 10-year sinking fund millage, which generates about $360,000 annually for ongoing facility repairs and maintenance.

The district first passed the sinking fund millage in 2004. Since then money generated from the 0.9984 levy has paid for roof repairs, parking lot repaving, door replacement, gym floor refinishing, lockers, carpets, athletic field improvements, track and tennis court resurfacing, land acquisition and other projects.

Renewed through 2024, the cost to homeowners will stay the same: $49.92 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

"We're very thankful to live in a gracious community. Our residents have once again shown great support," said Superintendent Ethan Ebenstein. "We look to continue to be good stewards in providing quality facilities for the community."

East Grand Rapids

$30.9 million bond -- Y: 1280 (63%) N: 757 (37%)

East Grand Rapids voters came out in overwhelming support of a $30.9 million bond to fund school improvements administrators say are necessary for maintenance, safety and staying up-to-date with technology.

"I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for the community's support," said Superintendent Sara Shubel, adding she's "continually in awe" of voters' willingness to invest in the future of the children. "The consistent support that we receive has allowed us to continue or tradition of excellence."

The bond will go toward safety and security measures, new technology and infrastructure districtwide and will replace aging boilers and roofs. The request includes about $6 million for safety and security, $10 million in technology and $16 million for facility efficiencies and improvements.

Kelloggsville

Operating Millage Renewal – Y: 268 (76%) N: 85 (24%)

Kelloggsville Public Schools voters renewed the district's 18-mill operating millage, 268 to 85. The five-year non-homestead renewal will allow the district to levy approximately $2.87 million in 2015 on commercial and industrial property and second homes. It is not levied on primary residences or other exempt properties.

Northview

$6.67 million building and site fund renewal – Y: 1,425 (73%)  N: 521 (27%)

Northview Public Schools voters strongly supported a 10-year renewal of its building and site millage, which will yield about $667,000 per year. That will pay for more secure building entrances, roof repair and grounds improvements among other needs.

"I'm very thankful to the Northview community for once again stepping up and doing their part to make sure that our kids have good learning environments," Superintendent Mike Paskewicz said. "I believe our community to be very bright, and given factual information will make reasonable decisions."

Paskewicz challenged state legislators to follow the example of "courageous" Northview voters by putting "a true net operating increase into the K-12 budget."

Rockford

$76.1 million bond issue – Y: 3,473 (68%)  N: 1,646 (32%)

Rockford residents approved a $76.1 million bond issue by a comfortable margin, continuing the district's current 8.5-mill levy for debt retirement. The bond will pay for about $50 million in capital improvements, $15 million in technology upgrades and $11 million in enhanced safety and security measures.

Superintendent Michael Shibler attributed the 68 percent approval margin to a supportive community and a rigorous information campaign that included 50 presentations to the public, civic groups and in homes.

"I am extremely grateful to our Rockford community," Shibler said. "They're very generous and very supportive of our school system and of our children.

"It once again demonstrates why Rockford is a great place for families and to raise children. I couldn't be prouder of our community."

Thornapple Kellogg

$6 million bond issue – Y: 1,196 (56%)  N: 956 (44%)

In the closest of the district elections, voters approved a $6 million bond for Thornapple Kellogg schools with a tax increase of 0.73 mill. That will mean an increase of $54.75 on a $150,000 home.

The bond will pay for multiple projects including $5.3 million for facility renovations and replacements, including security improvements; $1.7 million for technology upgrades; and $700,000 for transportation needs.

"Once again our community rallied around our kids," Superintendent Tom Enslen said. "What can a superintendent say but 'thank you, thank you, thank you.' I know these are precarious times, but those who know our circumstances know how important this is for our kids."

CONNECT

MLive roundup of all area elections

Submitted on: May 9th 2014

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