Updated: Friday, 12 Nov 2010, 1:08 PM EST
Published : Friday, 12 Nov 2010, 1:08 PM EST
HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - The Hudsonville school board signed off Thursday night on a plan to ask voters for $82 million to pay for a new ninth- and 10th-grade building, a new elementary school and other upgrades.
Superintendent Nicholas Ceglarek told 24 Hour News 8 the district hopes approval of the bond would extend the current tax rate in the district -- and not raise it.
That could happen because an existing bond is set to expire in the near future, he said. Administrators expect to hear an answer to the tax question in January from the Michigan Department of the Treasury.
If the state approves of the bond request, voters would see the question on their May ballot.
A growing number of students in the district -- at a time when many others in Michigan are seeing enrollment declines -- makes the expansions necessary, Ceglarek said.
"In the last five years, [Hudsonville Public Schools] has grown by almost 600 students," he said. "This year alone, we grew by over 200."
That number of new students over five years -- 600 -- is larger than the student population at the district's largest elementary school, the superintendent said.
Most of the bond money would go to constructing the new facility for ninth- and 10th-graders on the grounds of the existing high school and a replacement for South Elementary, he said.
The move would keep one high school in the district. That's the option district resarch found residents prefer, the superintendent said. But constructing a ninth- and 10th-grade building would allow for the possibility of two high schools in the future.
A new South Elementary would be needed in part because the existing one is on the high school campus -- and the district will need that space to build the new early high school building. The district will also need to build a new bus garage to make room, Ceglarek said.
Those two facilities -- the existing South school and the bus garage -- are the oldest in the district, he said.
If voters approve the bond, administrators plan to turn the existing freshman campus into an early childhood center. Moving early childhood programs from each elementary school to a central location would free up 16 classrooms to accomodate student growth, Ceglarek said. He said school boundary lines would not change.