GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Haven Area Public Schools has introduced a $155 million bond proposal to cover a series of projects, including a new middle school.
Voters will head to the polls on May 2 to make the decision. While the bond comes with a hefty number, the district said the bond won’t actually raise the local tax beyond the current rate.
As it stands now, the current GHAPS bond sits at 4.2 mills, the second lowest in Ottawa County. It would drop to 2.22 mills for 2023 and 1.29 mills for 2024 — the final year of the millage. The new proposal would keep the millage at 4.2 mills through 2027 before dropping to 3.32 mills in 2028 and dropping slightly year-over-year through 2045.
GHAPS superintendent Scott Grimes said the district has been planning the next phase of development for years now and quickly identified the most glaring issue.
“Addressing our aging buildings with a new middle school was really our first priority. Our current middle school is 70 years old and while it has been great for our district for that long, it certainly is showing some signs of age,” Grimes said.
The new Lakeshore Middle School would be built at a separate location, allowing students to stay at the current facility without any interruptions for construction. The district is currently targeting a property already owned by GHAPS on 152nd Avenue.
Amanda Sorrelle, the principal of Lakeshore Middle School, laid out several problems with the current building — everything from old heating and plumbing to cramped classrooms to a parking lot that no longer fits their needs.
“Our parking, we’re really locked in as far as being able to maneuver our bus traffic and our parent traffic. We have several classrooms that do not have windows. We also have a very old HVAC system. We do not have air conditioning in our building and heat in the wintertime, or the cooler months, is very uneven throughout our building,” Sorrelle said. “It provides for a difficult learning environment.”
Sorrelle also believes a new facility would be more cost effective.
“Renovation to a building of this magnitude would cost 70% of the amount it would cost to build a new building,” she said.
The middle school would not be the only facility upgraded with new bond funds. Assistant superintendent Jason Reinecke says improvements will be made at all 11 GHAPS facilities.
Grand Haven High School would get upgraded mechanical controls, a new roof, new carpet, new computers and other tech, a new multi-purpose facility and new tennis courts.
Elementary schools would also get upgraded technology along with new tile flooring, classroom cabinetry and renovated restrooms. The front office and vestibules would also be reconfigured for “enhanced safety.”
Sorrelle said the design process would start once the bond is passed. GHAPS has already held events to engage the community, students and staff on their input. The district is hosting a presentation at Lakeshore Middle School on Thursday, March 16. The presentation will begin at 6 p.m. followed by a tour of the building.
If the bond passes, the district estimates the new facility would be open within three to four years.