SPS School Board Plans On Placing Two Millage Requests On The May Ballot; Officials Not Yet Releasing How Much Taxpayers Would Have To Pay If Measures Are Successful
As they look to build on their “problem-based learning” strategy, the local public school district board is proposing to ask the electorate on the May election ballot to approve bonds for building improvements and maintenance.
“We want to create physical spaces that promote innovation, creativity and drives excellence,” Saugatuck Public Schools Board of Education President Nathan Lowery told The Local Observer Wednesday morning.
“We have a lot of aging infrastructure and while it provides a space for our students, it does not align well with our future vision of preparing students for life and career choices,” said Lowery.
“We are 10 to 15 years relative to what is out there in West Michigan,” he said, comparing, for example, the infrastructure he saw at Holland High School.
He continued, “This (bond proposal) should not come to a surprise to at least 80 percent of stakeholders. We’ve been discussing it in public meetings for at least a year and through the Community Outreach Forum.”
Interior and exterior improvements are being considered for both Douglas Elementary School building as well as the Saugatuck Middle School and Saugatuck High School building.
“Enhancements entail more windows for daylight, open space, and more spaces for community events,” said Lowery.
“With flexible spaces and transitional zones, the idea is to have students not only collaborate with each other between different classrooms, but also engage more with the outdoor environment such as during science lessons.”
The district will be asking voters to approve two distinct bonds. One entails a renewal bond or a slight increase for building improvements, a bond approved by voters five years ago that will end this late spring. The other also entails a renewal or a slight increase to the site sinking fund for maintenance.
Other than stating that any increase will be a “slight increase,” Lowery did not provide details about millage rates or how much the district wants to raise in terms of public funds.
He said more information will be publicly revealed and discussed at the school board workshop on Monday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. at the high school media center.
The next school board meeting is on Monday, Feb.12 at 6 p.m.
This would be the meeting the board would need to vote to move forward to actually put the bond proposal on the May ballot; Feb. 13 is the deadline for submittal to Allegan County to get the two school millages on the May ballot for voters.
School officials did not comment on why the public would have so little time to be informed about exactly how much the board will be seeking in the millages that taxpayers would have to pay if the measures were to pass, before they have to notify the county the day following the officials board vote.
Lowery did reveal that the district has hired the firm GMB Architecture & Engineering as well as GDK Construction management for the proposed project.
He did not say how much that hiring would cost taxpayers if the bond millages were to fail.
He said a May election bond will give the district the opportunity to plan things out for a year before actual physical improvements are implemented in 2019.