Bond Proposals on the Nov. 5 Ballot

There will be two bond proposals on the ballot Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Please use this page as a resource for more information about Proposals 1 & 2, or join us at a community forum in October to learn more.
 

Community Forums

You're invited! Please join us at either of our community forums to learn more about the bond proposals on the Nov. 5 ballot. Ask questions, view bond boards, and become informed about the proposed projects. Guests will enjoy a presentation followed by a Q & A at stations throughout the room.
 
Location: Grandville Middle School Project Room
  • Tuesday, Oct. 1 from 6:30-8 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 6:30-8 p.m.

Bond Brochure

Board Resolution

Item 5B of the July 15 board meeting minutes outlines the November bond issue.
 

Calculator

Use this confidential tax calculator to estimate the costs of Proposals 1 and 2 for you. Be sure to enter the home's taxable value, not market value. This amount is typically about half of the home's value and can be found on your property tax statement.
 

Where Do I Vote?

 

Request an Absent Voter Ballot

Due to the passage of the statewide ballot proposal 18-3, all eligible and registered voters in Michigan may now request an absent voter ballot without providing a reason. To request an absent voter ballot, complete the Michigan Absent Voter Ballot Application.
 

Media 

 

Ballot Language

Please note that air conditioning falls under the category of "remodeling, including school security improvements, furnishing and refurnishing, and equipping and reequipping school buildings and facilities" in the ballot language.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Click on a question below to view the answer. If your facility and financing questions aren't answered here, you may submit a question through this form.

Building & Facility FAQ

Q: Why do we need more educational space? Did we overshoot on anything in these proposals?

A: Our elementary buildings are at or near capacity, yet there are approximately 1,500 housing units that are either under construction or planned within district boundaries. By constructing a new middle school and putting grades 5 and 6 in the current middle school, space will be created in the elementary schools. This plan will help keep class sizes lower, allow programs such as music and art to have their own learning space, make space for programs such as Spanish immersion and S.T.E.M., and provide room for growth for the next eight to ten years within the district.
 
The community committee narrowed down its list of facility improvements to what it considered to be needs for the next three to five years and beyond. The 7-8 building is not going to be overbuilt and would be comparable in design to other 7-8 schools in the area.
 
The proposed addition to the Robotics & Engineering Center would more than double the size of the current center. The number of competitive robotics teams has more than doubled since the facility was dedicated, increasing from 42 teams in 2011, to more than 100 teams today.

Q: When would the new Grandville Middle School be ready? Where will it be located?

A: It is estimated that the new middle school would be completed by fall of 2023. It would be located near Grandville High School.

Q: What about increased traffic?

A: We would work with the city to determine necessary road improvements if the bond proposals pass. There are limits to what the district can spend bond dollars on when it comes to public road improvements

Q: Will Brookcrest Drive be extended to the middle school drive?

A: No. We would not connect the two streets. We also intend to preserve as many trees as possible and will work with our architectural firm to do so. Additionally, we do not plan on the north-south middle school drive being so close to the trees as the rendering shows. The rendering is an initial draft that enables a starting point for discussion.

Q: Can we put grades 5 & 6 in the new building instead of 7 & 8?

A: From an educational perspective, that would be less efficient. Having the 7-8 building near the robotics center and high school means that middle school students would be conveniently located near the two buildings to take advantage of their academic offerings during and after school.

Q: Would there be outdoor athletic facilities at the new middle school building?

A: There would be space outside for athletic practices at the new middle school. Competitions would be held on the high school’s fields or at the current GMS. The district would not eliminate athletic facilities at the current GMS.

Q: Will we need to build a second high school down the road?

A: The current high school was designed to be added to if it ever becomes necessary. The high school is not at capacity yet. Also, if Proposal 2 passes, the current pool space would become educational space.

Q: Would the attendance zones change for the elementary schools?

A: We do not plan on attendance zones changing because we should have space available to accommodate those living in each attendance zone. In addition, if there are unique circumstances that require a student to attend a neighboring elementary, we will have more flexibility to allow that to happen.

Q: Could we use the old Riverbend school building in Grand Rapids?

A: The Riverbend building cannot be opened for students as it would not meet today’s building codes and is not economically feasible to re-open. In addition, building or renovating there would not address our current space needs in town and south of town. The land was generously donated to the district, but there is not enough land there to construct a larger school facility for our growing population. It is currently being used for storage.

Q: What would the new community pool look like? What types of community use would be allowed?

A: Current plans include a deep-water competitive pool and a shallow, warm-water community pool. The information gathering and design process for this facility will begin if funding is approved. We anticipate this will be a very involved and public process in order to develop a plan that will meet the needs of our athletic program and the community.
 
The new natatorium would mean new aquatic opportunities for youth and adults alike, including more time for classes, open swim, lessons and more. The current pools are used very little during the day, as we have to restrict access to them to maintain security in their school locations. Because the pool complex would be separate from the schools, swimming opportunities would be available for longer periods of time for community members. A variety of Community Education recreational classes would also be offered evenings and weekends. 
 
Before the advent of universal concerns about school security, we were able to provide the public with regular access to our swimming pools for a nominal fee. If Proposal 2 passes, we would be able to return to that same arrangement. In addition, the current middle school pool has been in use for more than five decades and frequently needs expensive repairs; trying to keep it functioning is like trying to keep an unreliable car with 150,000 miles in use. The current high school pool also has functional issues and limitations, including that it is difficult for senior citizens to access because it is on the second floor; there is an elevator, but it is located amid the student population. Closing the current pools would create more educational space in both schools, which could curtail the need for school expansion projects. Grandville’s new natatorium would be comparable to other school pool facilities in the area that have undergone renovation in recent years. This more modern, more efficient facility would have improved ventilation and meet the needs of Grandville and Calvin swim teams as well as the needs of the community.

Q: What kind of security upgrades are included?

A: Bulletproof glass for classroom doors and sidelights, upgraded locks, and the ability to lock down all doors at the push of a button are a few of the advancements and preventative measures that would strengthen security capabilities within each building.

Q: What was covered in the 2016 sinking fund renewal and the 2013 bond?

A: Read this 2016 MLive article for information about the sinking fund millage that passed in May 2016. Because it was a renewal, homeowners did not experience a tax increase. 
 
The 2013 bond was passed by voters in May 2013 and also did not result in a millage increase. Check out this special edition of The Communicator that showcases the main improvements that occurred between 2013-16 as a result of the 2013 bond.
 
As a reminder, the expenditure of any bond money is audited, as required by Michigan law. Bond proceeds cannot be used for employee salaries or operational costs.

Q: Would all Community Ed preschool and Treehouse classrooms be in the new in-town building space? When would this begin?

A: The plan for preschool and daycare is to purchase an in-town building, or portion of a building, to accommodate our preschool programs and daytime Treehouse programming. Preschool programming at its current size is tentatively scheduled to begin in the in-town building in the fall of 2020. Some preschool classes could be offered at the elementary schools, but only if space is available. If Proposal 1 passes, renovation to the in-town building would take place in 2020 to expand preschool and Treehouse child care programming. The district always has a waiting list for preschool, and parents tell us that they cannot find child care. If the proposal doesn’t pass, the district will go forward with the purchase plan; however, the timeline to expand preschool programming will be extended, as funding will not be readily available. Quality preschool and child care are a focus of school districts because more brain development occurs from birth to age 5 than during any other phase in life.

Q: How does a 5-6 building benefit 5th and 6th graders and the other lower elementary students? Do 5th & 6th grade teachers agree with a separate building for their students?

A: Programming with a 5th and 6th grade configuration allows students in the two grades to have more developmentally appropriate experiences than are possible in a K-6 building that contains children as young as 5 years old. In a building designed for them, fifth and sixth graders would have some elementary-level experiences, but would begin to transition to adolescence with more mature experiences they might not get in a younger elementary environment. Restructuring would allow for broader 5th and 6th grade curriculum offerings and expansion of art and music programs. Many of our teachers, particularly our sixth grade teachers, say that student needs do not fit into the K-6 building model.
 
A new middle school building will create educational space in the elementary buildings, which would help keep class sizes lower, provide for expansion of programs (such as Spanish Immersion and STEM), and increase capacity for students from new housing developments in Walker, Grandville and Wyoming. The 7-8 building would be designed to accommodate future growth as well, with a planned capacity of approximately 1,100 students.

Q: Is there room for growth in the 5-6 building?

A: If Proposal 2 passes, the current pool space would be converted into additional educational space. We can also make some renovations to part of the current building to create classrooms for more fifth and sixth graders.

Q: Would 5th and 6th graders still have a playground space?

A: We would design the needed space for 5th and 6th grade students to have developmentally appropriate exercise and outdoor experiences. We would ask students what they would enjoy for recess.

Q: Is our increased enrollment due to an abundance of Schools of Choice kids?

A: No. The Schools of Choice population in Grandville Public Schools is between 10-12%. Surrounding school districts have Schools of Choice populations as high as 29%. We drastically reduced our Schools of Choice openings this past year, and yet we are still up approximately 55 students, which is indicative of residential growth.  

Q: How will the community be informed about the proposals?

A: So far, the community has received information about the proposals via two issues of The Communicator, a brochure, local media outlets, public board meetings, the district website, community forums, videos, football tailgates, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Current parents have received information through Infinite Campus, and bond boards are on display in school offices. Also, there will be reminders on our outdoor digital signs to vote. If you are not on our Communicator newsletter mailing list and would like to be, please email gpscommunicator@gmail.com with your address.

Q: Will this bond create separate gyms and cafeterias for the elementary schools that are currently using their gyms for lunch?

A: No. We would have to take space from other areas of the school buildings, such as the libraries, to create separate gym and cafeteria spaces, so there are no plans to do so.

Q: Could we make a running trail through the south campus site so that children have a safe area to run?

A: We would be open to creating a running trail and would ask our teams and athletic programs to design a plan.

Q: Are there any plans for a fine arts center?

A: There are no plans for a fine arts center, though we are planning on recovering seats in our current auditorium.

Funding & Cost FAQ

Q: How do our millage rates compare with other communities?

A: Homeowners in Grandville Public Schools have one of the lowest combined school district debt and sinking fund levies in Kent and Ottawa Counties. If both bond proposals pass, the new combined rate will still be below the average debt and sinking fund levy rates for both counties. The graph below offers a full comparison of debt and sinking fund levies. The proposed debt for Grandville is shown in green.
 
graph showing the debt levies of local schools, highlighting that Grandville would be below average if proposals pass

Q: What is the estimated cost for a homeowner in Grandville Public Schools if the bond proposals pass?

A: The cost will depend on your home's value as well as your eligibility for the homestead tax credit, which could potentially offset the increase. To determine your specific tax impact, locate your home’s taxable value (usually about half of the market value) on your most recent tax statement and use this confidential online tax calculator.
 
Below is a summary of the revised Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit:
 
Households that pay homestead property taxes greater than 3.2% of their annual income may be eligible for the Michigan’s Homestead Property Tax Credit. Eligible households may deduct up to 60% (up to 100% for senior citizens, please see the senior credit table below) of the millage increase cost, up to a $1,500 Homestead Tax Credit limit. The eligibility for the credit begins to decrease after household income exceeds $51,001 and ends completely after household income exceeds $60,001. As the general credit reduction table shows (below left), if total household resources equal $50,000, the deduction is 100% of the 60% credit. If total household resources equal $60,000, the deduction is 10% of the 60% credit. If you have questions about the impact on your taxes, please consult with your accountant or tax adviser.

General Credit Reduction

 

Senior Credit

Resources

% of Credit

 

Resources

% Credit

≤$51,000

100%

 

≤$21,000

100%

$51,001

90%

 

$21,001

96%

$52,001

80%

 

$22,001

92%

$53,001

70%

 

$23,001

88%

$54,001

60%

 

$24,001

84%

$55,001

50%

 

$25,001

80%

$56,001

40%

 

$26,001

76%

$57,001

30%

 

$27,001

72%

$58,001

20%

 

$28,001

68%

$59,001

10%

 

$29,001

64%

≥$60,001

0%

 

≥$30,001

60%

 

Q: Why does it cost so much to update or construct school facilities?

A: Commercial building costs have increased considerably over the last three decades due to rising material and labor costs. According to the construction cost database RSMeans, the cost index in the Grand Rapids area for commercial buildings has increased more than 250% between 1988 and 2018.

Q: Tell me more about the safety and security changes and music, technology and transportation improvements. Is it possible to get a general cost breakdown for them?

A: Safety and Security—This bond proposal would address areas of concern that have emerged since the 2013 bond passage, including adding security glass in doorways, advanced locks, remote locking of doors and areas, and technology that would strengthen our learning environment. The cost estimate for the security improvements is $2,730,400 as part of the Series 3 Bond in 2024.
Music—Most of our school-owned band and orchestra instruments are at least 30 years old and are past due to be replaced. We would also provide enhanced instrumental music experiences for elementary students. The estimated cost is $500,000 in 2020 as part of the Series 1 Bond.
Technology—New technology would provide students with new opportunities for years to come, including innovative programs and tools that would prepare them for work-related certifications. The estimated cost is $5 million in 2024 as part of the Series 3 Bond. There are also technology advancements planned that will enhance security.
Transportation—Improvements are planned for our bus garage that would provide for more efficient maintenance and repair of our buses as well as enhanced operational systems that would improve safety and the efficiency of bus routes. The estimated cost is $4,159,000 as part of the Series 3 Bond in 2024.
 
As with all construction projects, the timetable is subject to change.

Q: If Proposals 1 & 2 pass, what is the timeline for the use of the funds for the projects?

A: Bonds are to be sold in three series. Series 1 would begin in 2020. The new middle school building, air conditioning, security, musical instruments, and renovations to the in-town early childhood building are part of the Series 1 Bond projects that would begin in 2020. The Series 1 Bond for the community pool would be issued in 2021. The Series 2 Bond in 2022 would be used for the remainder of the new middle school construction as well as improvements to the the 5-6 building (the current Grandville Middle School building). Robotics, technology, the bus garage and more security improvements are part of the Series 3 bond projects that would begin in 2024. As with all construction projects, the timetable is subject to change.

Q: Will owners of the multi-family housing units that are being built in our school district have to pay their fair share?

A: The cost of the bond proposals would not be borne by homeowners alone. Bonded debt is assessed to all properties (i.e., commercial, industrial, non-PRE & PRE).

Q: Are businesses taxed according to their income or property value for bonded debt?

A: The taxes paid for bonded debt are based on the value of property, not business income. However, businesses may be able to write off the taxes they pay as a business expense, which, for any profitable business, should reduce the net cost of the property tax if the proposals pass. Learn more about property taxes at Michigan.gov or contact your tax professional.

Q: If more expensive properties are built than anticipated, what would the community’s increased taxable value mean?

A: The taxes raised to pay off the bond debt can only go toward paying down the bond debt service on the bonds that have been approved. An increase in taxable value for the community means the bond millage would be reduced to match the debt service need.

Q: Do only homeowners with a Grandville property address pay Grandville Public Schools' debt millage? What about Walker and Wyoming homeowners?

A: Homeowners pay school millage debt based on what school district they live in, not what city they live in. Our school district boundaries include homes in both Wyoming and Walker.
 
For example, a homeowner with a Wyoming address who lives in our district is assessed Grandville Public Schools' millage rate, but a homeowner with a Wyoming address who lives within the school district boundaries of Wyoming Public Schools is assessed Wyoming Public Schools' millage rate. You may wish to view this map of school boundaries in Kent County to get an overview of the perimeter of our district.

South Campus Site Concepts

This site diagram by GMB Architecture & Engineering depicts potential building and site relationships of the proposed Robotics & Engineering Center addition, natatorium (community swimming pool complex), and new middle school — all located just south of Grandville High School. We have received extensive input from various breakout groups. If the bond proposals pass, their input will be used to develop detailed designs. As many trees as possible would be preserved. Also, the north-south school drive would not connect to Brookcrest Drive, and it would not be as close to homeowners' backyards as this diagram suggests.
 

Bond Video

 

Bond Boards

Below is a PDF of conceptual graphics explaining the bond proposals, to be displayed at their respective schools.