On Tuesday, May 2, 2023, our community will vote on a school bond proposal. If approved by voters, this bond will provide $155,775,000 for district improvements with no tax rate increase over the current rate.
What are the key projects in this bond proposal?
This bond proposal focuses on three key areas: ●New Middle School ●Safety and Health ●Educational Enhancements
Why are we proposing to build a new middle school? Is there something wrong with the current building?
The current Lakeshore Middle School was constructed seventy years ago and has not received significant renovations for almost a decade. •The Middle School has building system issues that need to be addressed in order to support the building’s functionality as a school building serving a large population of middle school students. HVAC, boilers, controls, electrical systems, plumbing, and several areas of roofing. Most of these items are failing or near failing because of age. •There are significant difficulties in restructuring the building to accommodate important elements of 21st-century learning best practices are key drivers in considering the replacement of Lakeshore Middle School •Those mechanical/infrastructure projects would not address the learning environment issues. The current building lacks flexibility and does not provide opportunities for 21st-century educational best practices, such as spaces for student collaboration, and breakout spaces for small-group instruction •The classroom sizes are some of the smallest in the District with very little natural light, and a few classrooms have no natural light at all •Classrooms do not support collaboration or project-based learning •The building lacks adequate lab support to provide the opportunity for STEM initiatives
Why not build the new middle school on the current Middle School site instead of the new proposed location on 152nd and Lincoln?
•Renovating the current middle school would be approximately 70% of the cost of building a new Middle School, and that does not include the cost to create modern, flexible learning environments •Building on the Lakeshore Middle School site would result in a longer construction timeline and, as a result, higher construction costs •The current Lakeshore Middle School Campus is not suitable oCurrent site is not able to accommodate both buildings (the current middle school building and a new middle school building) at the same time. Therefore, the current middle school building would have to be demolished first, leaving no building for the middle school students to attend during construction. The site is too small to build a new school while the current Middle School is occupied. oIt would be difficult to build a new middle school on the current campus site without significant disruption to the middle school student schedule and learning environment, as well as concerns for student safety. oIt would also delay the opening of the new middle school, extending the use of the district’s general fund revenues to pay costs of facility repairs and improvements. oBuilding the new middle school on the new site would provide a more centralized location for our district’s middle school, closer to where the district student population resides.
What is a bond proposal and how can funds from a bond be spent?
A bond proposal is how a public school district asks voters for authorization to borrow money to pay for capital expenditures. Voter-approved bond funds can be spent on new construction, additions, remodeling, site improvements, athletic facilities, playgrounds, buses, furnishings, equipment, and other capital needs, as described in the proposal. Funds raised through the sale of bonds cannot be used on operational expenses such as employee salaries and benefits, school supplies, and textbooks. Bond funds must be kept separate from operating funds and must be audited by an independent auditing firm.
How would the bond proposal impact my property taxes?
If approved by voters, the millage rate is projected to remain the same as the current debt levy of 4.2 mills.
Is the bond millage rate estimated to be the same for the entire life of the bond proposal?
No, the bond millage rate is estimated to remain at 4.20 mills through 2027, thereafter it is estimated to decline due to bond repayment and taxable value growth, as illustrated in the chart linked below.
What happens to the debt tax rate if the bond proposal is not approved by voters?
The current debt millage rate is 4.20 mills. If the bond proposal is approved by voters on May 2, 2023 the debt millage rate is projected to remain the same at 4.20 mills until 2027 when it is estimated to decline further in the future. If the bond proposal is not approved by voters, the debt millage rate is projected to decline to 2.22 mills within the year and is estimated to decline further in the future.
What are the results of the Facility Assessments?
The district-wide facility assessment identified approximately $275 million dollars worth of capital improvement deficiencies over the next 10 years. Throughout the assessment process, it was evident that district leadership has worked hard to maintain and improve its facilities over the last several years, however, there are many systems that are at or beyond their expected lifecycle. The assessment also identified additional opportunities where the district should consider aligning its facilities to modern best practices with respect to safety & security, and teaching & learning. Some of the larger items identified in the assessment included high school roofing and HVAC equipment, which are both near the end of their useful lifecycles. Lakeshore Middle School also has numerous infrastructure needs and these improvements would cost approximately 70% of the cost of replacing the building.
So, what is the ideal site size for a new Middle School?
Approximately 28 acres is a good planning standard, and the GHAPS-owned property is 90 acres. For reference, the current Lakeshore Middle School site is only 18 acres. The Council of Educational Facility Planners (CEFPI), now known as the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) published guidelines on various topics regarding educational facility planning. Many factors need to be considered, including the number of students, the grades to be housed, the educational programs and services that are planned, the site requirements including physical education programs, parking, zoning and setbacks, stormwater management, and community sports, leisure, and recreational events. The Guide for Planning Educational Facilities recommends Middle School sites = 20 acres plus 1 acre for every 100 students. In GHAPS, this would mean 28 acres for a new Middle School site (20 acres + 1 acre for every 100 students).
Will the new middle school be designed for an enrollment increase or decrease?
GHAPS student population is projected to decline slightly over the next five years. Student enrollment is projected to decline by approximately 7%. ●A third-party enrollment projection provider, Stanfred Consultants, provided the enrollment projection. Stanfred has been providing enrollment projections to educational organizations for the past 40 years. Frederick R. Ignatovich Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University, is the principal consultant. He has had extensive experience in demographic analyses, facilities planning, and research evaluation in education. Over the past 40 years, Dr. Ignatovich has produced over 4,800 enrollment projections for local and intermediate school districts in the State of Michigan. ●The building will be able to accommodate additional growth if needed ○Our current middle school population is 733 students ○Stanfred projects 718 students for the middle school population in five years. ○Teaching station count will be able to accommodate approximately 780 students (not accounting for additional project spaces) based on the utilization of classrooms at all times.
Have any traffic studies been done at the proposed site on Lincoln/152nd?
No. Traffic studies could be completed as a portion of future site planning and development. Traffic studies are not a cost the district would like to incur until after a successful bond election, then the traffic study could be included as a part of the project's due diligence.
Are there any wetlands within the district property at Lincoln/152nd?
Yes, there are some wetlands on the 90-acre parcel at Lincoln Street and 152nd Avenue in Grand Haven Township. A preliminary wetland evaluation was completed and the district would engage a consultant after a successful bond election to do a more detailed delineation. The district’s design team would prioritize minimizing the impact of construction activities on existing wetlands.
How many students will the new building be able to house?
The current plan for the proposed new middle school is being designed for up to 788 students, based on the criteria established by the Michigan Department of Treasury and third-party enrollment projections. The district enrollment projection is estimating a middle school population of 718 students in 2026, which is a 96% building utilization. The Michigan Department of Treasury uses 85% as a minimum utilization standard for newly constructed buildings.
If the bond is approved, what would happen to Lakeshore Middle School after the new middle school is open?
GHAPS is committed to forming a stakeholder committee of staff and community members to assist with finding viable options for the current Lakeshore site. Students would remain in the current building for approximately four years so there is substantial time until that decision would be made. We are committed to making a decision that is mutually beneficial to the school district and the community we serve.
Part of the plan calls for safer entrances in schools. Weren't all the school's front entrances updated a few years ago? What other safety improvements are mentioned?
The district has previously invested in establishing secure entrances at its existing facilities. This work primarily includes the installation of exterior buzzer systems, cameras, and access controls to help restrict access to authorized visitors only. The goal of this bond is to enhance the existing investment that has already been made to improve the security of entrances at all school buildings. The proposed scope of work includes providing canopies at each of the elementary secure entrances to provide additional shelter and assist in wayfinding.
Would the approval of the bond proposal have any impact on our current operational budget?
While funding from this bond proposal is independent of the district’s general fund operating budget, the bond would likely have a positive impact on the district’s general fund by allowing the district to reallocate operating funds that are currently being spent on aging facilities, paving, mechanical systems, and technology. The operational savings generated from new and cost-efficient facilities could be redirected to student programs and resources.
How can voters be sure the bond funds would be spent the way they are supposed to be spent?
Michigan law requires the expenditure of bond proceeds to be audited. The bond proceeds can only be spent for purposes approved by the voters. The bond cannot be used for repair or maintenance costs, teacher, administrator, or employee salaries, or other operating expenses. An audit would be completed at the end of each series to ensure compliance.
When will the millage for this proposal first be levied?
On the July 1, 2023 property tax bill.
Are businesses and second homes (non-homestead property) and primary homes (homestead property) treated the same regarding bond millage?
Yes, businesses and second homes (non-homestead) and primary homes (homestead) are treated the same regarding bond millage. All properties are assessed for debt millage based on their taxable value.
How does the millage rate of GHAPS compare to area schools?
GHAPS levies one of the lowest millage rates of area schools. The GHAPS debt millage rate is 4.2 mills, and GHAPS does not have a sinking fund, as illustrated in the chart shown here: https://ghaps-bond.org/financials#debt-comparison-and-millage-rate.
What are area schools doing for bond proposals?
Below is a list of area school districts' aggregate bond amount. Grand Haven Area Public Schools total proposed aggregate bond amount is $155,755,000.
Would money from the bond proposal be used to pay teachers’ salaries and benefits?
No. School districts are not allowed to use funds from a bond for operating expenses such as teacher, administrator or employee salaries, routine maintenance, or operating costs. Bond proceeds can only be spent for purposes approved by the voters. Bond revenue must be kept separate from operating funds and expenditures must be audited by an independent auditing firm.
How would I know the bond funds would be spent the way they are supposed to be spent?
Every bond construction fund is required to have an independent audit, as required by the Revised School Code. One objective of the audit is to determine if the bond proceeds have been expended consistent with the stated purposes for which the bonds were authorized by the voters. The audit must be performed by an independent CPA, licensed with the Michigan State Board of Accountancy, and comply with generally accepted auditing standards as adopted by the American Institute of CPAs. A bond construction fund audit report is required after construction is completed as determined by a Certificate of Substantial Completion. This report is for the entire construction period, from the sale of the bond issue or the beginning of the project (whichever is earlier) through completion, and must include all activity in the fund for that period.
With a successful bond election, what are the typical phases essential to the completion of a project?
After a successful bond election, bond projects will typically go through a (1) design phase, (2) state approval phase, (3) bidding phase, (4) site work phase, and (5) construction phase. For new construction, such as the new Middle School, the design phase portion alone could take at least 1.5 years before moving into state approval, bidding, site work, and construction. It is important to keep in mind that the timeline for bond project site work and construction should not disrupt the students’ schedule and therefore must be coordinated with the district’s calendar.
What oversights would hold the district accountable?
If approved by voters, the district’s Architect/Engineer would design the proposed projects and prepare construction documents and specifications for the projects. Once the projects are designed, the district’s Construction Manager will assemble bid packages and publicly advertise to solicit competitive bids for all work. This is required by the Revised School Code. This process ensures that the district selects the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. All qualified contractors will have an opportunity to attend a pre-bid meeting to obtain additional information and project clarification. All qualified contractors will have the opportunity to participate in the competitive bid process.
At what point would the State of Michigan, as well as the local fire and police departments, provide input into the bond projects?
Each project will be required to be submitted to both the Bureau of Construction Codes (BCC) and the Bureau of Fire Services (BFS) for both plan review and permitting. These agencies will review the projects to ensure they comply with applicable codes, before any building permits are issued. Building plans and specifications must be signed and sealed by a Licensed Architect/Professional Engineer before submission. As of March 21, 2019, Michigan law requires school districts to consult on the plans for the construction or major renovation regarding school safety issues with the law enforcement agency that is the first responder for that school building. This consultation would happen after a bond proposal has been approved by voters, before construction documents are finalized prior to project commencement.
How do I register to vote?
Visit Michigan.gov/vote to register to vote online. It is recommended by the Secretary of State to register by mail by Thursday, April 17, 2023, to participate in the May 2, 2023 election. Individuals may also register in-person at their local clerk’s office through May 2, 2023, with the required documentation. For assistance in obtaining the address of your local clerk, visit Michigan.gov/vote.
Are owners of property in the school district eligible to vote if they do not reside in the school district?
Owners of property are only eligible to vote if they reside within the school district boundaries. To be eligible to register to vote you must be: ●A Michigan resident (at the time you register) and a resident of your city or township for at least 30 days (when you vote) ●A United States citizen ●At least 18 years of age (when you vote) ●Not currently serving a sentence in jail or prison
If I rent a house, can I vote?
Yes, if you rent a house you can still vote. You must be a registered voter in the city or township you are living in and live within the school district’s boundaries.
How is an absentee voter ballot obtained?
Registered voters must complete and submit the application to receive their absentee voter ballot. To vote by mail, fill out the application and sign it, and then return it to your local clerk. For assistance in obtaining the address of your local clerk, visit Michigan.gov/vote. When filling out the application, if you check the box to be added to the permanent absentee voter list, you will get an application mailed to you before every election. If you registered to vote after absentee voter ballot applications were mailed, applications may be obtained at Michigan.gov/vote. Absentee voter ballots are available to the general public by Monday, March 23 through election day, May 2, 2023.
What are the key dates leading up to the May 2, 2023 election day?
●Registering to vote: ○The last day for voters to register by mail is Monday, April 17, 2023 ○Voters may register in-person through Tuesday, May 2, 2023 (election day) with the required documentation ●Absentee Voting: ○Absentee voter ballots are available from Thursday, March 23 until Tuesday, May 2, 2023 ○Contact your local clerk with questions ●Attend a community presentation: ○March 16, 2023, at 6:00pm at Lakeshore Middle School
Where and when will the vote occur?
Tuesday, May 2, 2023, is election day, but absentee voting can occur leading up to that date. All registered voters may cast an absentee voter ballot by mail. Voters may also cast a ballot at the polling location established by their city/township. If you have questions or do not know where you vote, please contact your city/township office. Polls will be open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm on Tuesday, May 2, 2023.
Are technology purchases going to be amortized over a 21-year period? Is there a technology replacement plan?
No, technology purchases are required to be amortized over a 5-year period beginning at the time of installation. Yes, each bond series has an allowance for future technology purchases and updates.
Are bus purchases going to be amortized over a 21-year period?
No, bus purchases are required to be amortized over a 6-year period beginning at the time the buses are put into service.