Heather Walker -
SPRING LAKE, Mich. (WOOD) -- A new study found a school in Ottawa County is the third safest in Michigan.
Spring Lake Public Schools landed the rating from the website Niche.
Niche bases its rankings on data from the U.S. Department of Education from 2014 to 2016, which is the most recent available. Some of the factors include absentee rates, suspensions and school-related arrests. The rankings don't coincide with wealth or size of the school. The assessment also includes parent and student surveys about how safe they feel.>>Online: See the statewide rankings and find where your district stands
Spring Lake Superintendent Dennis Furton said he was partly surprised by the news.
"You are always a little surprised by any recognition. On the other hand, knowing the staff here and the community we serve, I'm not surprised," he said.
"I think in order for our community to confidently state they feel this is a safe place, it really comes back to what's the relationship that their kids have with their teachers, their administrators, with each other," he added.
There's also physical protection. Furton says all of the schools in the district have cameras inside and out, along with single secure entry and other safety features like classroom door locks. Those features are in part thanks to a 2014 bond that raised $54 million to enhance security.
Furton said the district is always looking at new ways to get ahead of any threat.
"You receive recognition like this and other than giving yourself a quick pat on the back maybe and sharing that with staff, you have to get right back at it," he said.
According to Niche, the safest districts in West Michigan are:
- Spring Lake Public Schools
- Gull Lake Community Schools (Richland, MI)
- Fremont Public Schools
- West Ottawa Public Schools
- Thornapple Kellogg School District
- Kentwood Public Schools
- Caledonia Public Schools
- Coopersville Public Schools
- Grandville Public Schools
- Mona Shores Public School District
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