GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Next week, Grand Rapids Public Schools will ask voters to support a $305 million bond proposal that won’t increase taxes.
Over the last year and a half, Grand Rapids Public Schools has engaged the community on how the district can be better.
“It’s been through public forums, town halls, surveys, small groups,” said Dr. Leadriane Roby, Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent.
Roby said one of the most common things mentioned was building upgrades.
“There’s lots of things that go behind buildings that are aging. The things that are behind the wall, things like HVAC systems, making sure that every building has air conditioning,” Roby said.
On Nov. 7, GRPS is seeking voter approval of a 20-year, $305 million bond proposal.
A majority of the funding would be used for building improvements, but millions would also go toward technology, safety and security, renovations of athletic facilities and consolidation efforts.
“We know with this bond we’re looking to address making sure that what’s available on one side of the city, doing the same type of programming on the other side of the city. We’re calling it the marrying principle,” Roby said.
The proposal wouldn’t increase any taxes, instead, it would extend the current 3.85 millage rate for Grand Rapids property owners.
“We have the lowest millage rate in Kent County and so it does have an impact on the types of programming and how our schools look and the technology we’re able to offer our young people. So, for us, this is not just an access piece. It’s an equity piece and we want to make sure that our young people have the very best experiences, and that does cost money,” Roby said.
Kyle Lim with the nonprofit Urban Core Collective said his organization is in support of the bond proposal.
“We have building-level improvements that need to happen so we’re encouraging people to say yes to this bond,” Kyle Lim, strategist with the Urban Core Collective said.
But Lim said he also wants to make sure the bond dollars are used in the most meaningful way for the community, as they are distributed.
“We need to pay attention to the details of what they’re proposing because everything they are proposing right now are needs, right? But it’s just a matter of making sure that the response is an appropriate one,” Lim said.
If the bond proposal doesn’t pass, Roby says GRPS will continue to look at ways to right-size the district, but it could hurt the ability for expansion and growth in various areas.