Tag Archives: millage

School News Network: A ‘Thank You’ from KISD

By Ron Koehler

KISD Assistant Superintendent, Organizational & Community Initiatives and Legislative Affairs

 

Kent County voters on May 2 turned out to the polls and expressed confidence in their schools by approving a ballot proposal that will provide crucial support to all 20 districts in Kent ISD. The enhancement millage will yield approximately $211 per pupil for each of the next 10 years, beginning with the 2017-18 school year.

 

Thank you!

These dollars are essential to help our schools meet the needs of students, maintain programs and create more connections to the world of work as we prepare young adults for careers.

 

They also create a small, but stable and reliable source of revenue for schools as Lansing grapples with perennial budget problems, which make it very likely legislators will be tempted to drain even more money from the School Aid Fund for higher education in coming years.  Currently, more than $600 million is going out of the School Aid Fund to support community colleges and universities.

 

Ron Koehler

The recent Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference, conducted twice a year to predict revenues available for state government, forecast slow growth in Michigan’s general fund and significant budget pressures ahead.

 

Just a week earlier, the Senate Fiscal Agency projected a $2.072 billion hole in the general fund budget in five short years, due largely to the road package that passed in 2015 with a commitment to use general fund dollars to augment the fuel taxes dedicated to road repair. Other factors contributing to the projected deficit were elimination of the Personal Property Tax on business and the sales tax on the difference between the price of a new vehicle and the customer’s trade-in.

 

Legislators are already responding to the pressure. In the wake of the bleak general fund projections, Republican Rep. James Lower of Montcalm County introduced HB4261 to divert some $430 million from the School Aid Fund to the general fund by reversing the decades-long policy of applying all tax refunds to the state’s general fund.

 

Amid all of this, Kent County taxpayers sent a clear message to Lansing: Education is important.  Students deserve better. We need to adequately fund our schools to ensure a positive future for our children, and our communities.

 

So, again, on behalf of our students and our schools, thank you. For those of us who have devoted our careers to the education of children and the betterment of our communities, it is reassuring to know our community values our commitment to this work. Cheers!

 

Check out School News Network for more stories about students, schools, and faculty in West Michigan.

Kentwood, Wyoming residents head to the polls tomorrow for millage proposals

Tomorrow both residents of Kentwood and Wyoming will be heading to the polls to vote on millage proposals.

 

Residents from the two cities – along with all of Kent County – will be voting on a proposed Kent Intermediate School District Regional Enhancement Millage. The property tax increase of .9 mills would be distributed to all 20 school districts in Kent County for the next 10 years. The amount is about .90 cent of taxable evaluation. For a $200,000 home, the taxable evaluation would be $100,000 with the increase being about $90 per year.

 

 

If passed, each district would receive an additional $211 per student each year, which can be used to supplement the funding that comes from the state of Michigan. School officials have stated the funding would be used to help maintain programs, improve services and meet other needs. Each school district will be able to determine how to spend the money. For more information on the district’s plans for the money, clicking on the school’s name which will direct you to the School News Network stories. For more on the millage, click here.

 

Godfrey Lee Public Schools will receive about $450,000.

 

Godwin Heights Public Schools will receive about $500,000.

 

Kelloggsville Public Schools will receive about $470,000.

 

Wyoming Public Schools will receive about $900,000.

 

Also, the residents of Wyoming are being asked to vote for flexible funding by opening up its library maintenance millage to help with park improvements. The city is seeking about .16 of the .39 of the mill levy to help with park improvements at four parks, Ferrand, Ideal, Gezon, and Jackson. The nearly $800,000 per year raised would be use to pay a 15-year bond of $4.4 million. The cost for the average Wyoming homeowner would be about $12 a year, according to city officials. For more about the millage, visit WYParks.com.

Wyoming hosts last meeting on millage, KDL leader states he is comfortable with request

On Saturday, April 29, the City of Wyoming will host the last of its three public information sessions on its request to open the city’s library maintenance fund for park improvements.

 

The meeting is at 10 a.m. at the KDL Wyoming Branch located at 3350 Michael Ave. SW. The discussion will center on the May 2 ballot proposal where voters are being asked to allow the city to utilize .16 of its .39 library maintenance millage to put toward some of the $23 million in park needs. The nearly $800,000 per year raised would be use to pay a 15-year bond of $4.4 million. The bond money would be dedicated for park improvements at Ideal, Jackson, Ferrand, and Gezon.

 

According to Wyoming’s Director of Community Services Rebecca Rynbrandt, the mill levy for the average Wyoming homeowner would be less than $12 a year.

 

The library maintenance millage is only to maintain the actually facility, Rynbrandt said, adding that what many people do not realize is that the library building is owned by the City of Wyoming. Kent District Library operates the library services and owns the collection. Operations of the library and the collection are funded through a Kent District Library millage, which is a 1.28 mill levy, which covers all 18 branches within the KDL system.

 

The Kent District Library and the Kent District Library Board are neutral on the subject of Wyoming’s request to transfer some of its library maintenance millage for park improvements, however; KDL Director Lance M. Werner said he and Wyoming Branch Manager Lori Holland have had multiple talks with the city about the proposal and impact to the library.

 

“We have been repeatedly assured by the City that the Branch will be held harmless and will be supported at the same level it currently is in the future,” Werner said.

 

The city recently completed more than $650,000 in renovations to the library facility that includes a new roof and the revamping of the former cafe to a public space. Upon review, city staff determined that there would be no major renovation projects needed for the library facility within the next 10 years, Rynbrandt said.

 

Every five years, the City of Wyoming meets with residents and city staff to review needs at its parks. Through that process, the city has recognized more than $23 million in park improvements. In 1994, Wyoming residents did grant a park millage which for the past 20 years the city has been able to invest and maintain the parks without an increase, Rynbrandt said.

 

However, within four years the city has had several natural disasters — a 2013 flood, and 2014 and 2016 tornados — which has created a greater need, Rynbrandt said. Highlighting some of those needs is Ideal Park, one of the four parks that would receive funding through the millage proposal. Ideal Park was severally impacted from the 2014 tornado with its playground equipment destroyed. The city was able to remove much of the debris and get the park reopened only to have the 2016 tornado cause more damage.

 

Jackson Park also was impacted by the tornados but also has a need for better stormwater control along with improved security and safety. Ferrand Park is a small pocket park that has not have any major improvements in a number of years and Gezon Park is surrounded by intense residential growth with the central area of the park needing to be developed.

 

For more information about the proposal or any the parks, visit WYParks.com.

 

City of Wyoming hosts second meeting on upcoming millage request

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

Tonight, the City of Wyoming will host a second meeting to discuss the upcoming request to open up its library maintenance millage for park improvements.

 

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. tonight at the Gezon Fire Station located at 2300 Gezon Parkway SW. On the May 2 ballot, the city is requesting that .16 of the .39 library maintenance levy be used to help with park improvements. The nearly $800,000 per year raised would be use to pay a 15-year bond of $4.4 million. The bond money would be dedicated for park improvements at Ideal, Jackson, Ferrand, and Gezon.

 

According to Wyoming’s Director of Community Services Rebecca Rynbrandt, the mill levy for the average Wyoming homeowner would be less than $12 a year.

 

For the past several years, the City of Wyoming has made facility improvements to the library which has included the revamping of the former library cafe into a public meeting space. “Over the course of the years, the city council has only actually levied that which is necessary to maintain the library,” Rynbrandt said, adding that as city officials looked ahead, they realized for the next 10 years, the library facility would not need any major renovations.

 

“So here we are not at the point where we can say we don’t need to make those significant investments in library maintenance in the next 10 years,” Rynbrandt said. “So we have a choice: can we ask the voters to recognize the maintenance needs in the park system and would they allow us the flexibility to use some of those library maintenance funds on park capital.”

 

The question before voters on May 2 is whether the city can use some of the library maintenance funds for park improvements.

 

This would not have any impact on the overall operation of the library which falls under the Kent District Library system. Operation, including materials, is covered through a KDL millage which is separate from the city’s library maintenance millage.

 

Two tornados and a flood within four years caused extensive damage at Ideal Park with the park losing many of its trees and playground equipment. Jackson Park also was impacted by the tornados but also has a need for better stormwater control along with improved security and safety. Ferrand Park is a small pocket park that has not have any major improvements in a number of years and Gezon Park is surrounded by intense residential growth with the central area of the park needing to be developed.

 

For more information about the proposal and the four parks, visit WYParks.com. The next meeting on the parks will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 29, at the Wyoming Public Library, 3350 Michael Ave. SW.

Wyoming seeks to open up library maintenance millage for park improvements

 

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

With much of the necessary updates made to the City of Wyoming’s library building, Wyoming officials are now turning their attention to its parks by asking its voters to allow the city’s dedicated library maintenance millage to be opened up to make improvements at four of its parks.

 

The proposal will go before voters at the May 2 election. It is requesting that about .16 of the .39 library maintenance levy be used to help with park improvements. The nearly $800,000 per year raised would be used to pay a 15-year bond of $4.4 million. The bond money would be used for four parks: Ideal, Jackson, Ferrand, and Gezon.

 

“From a mill levy standpoint it is less than $12 a year,” said Wyoming’s Director of Community Services Rebecca Rynbrandt. “So it is the average cost for a homeowner in the City of Wyoming less than one cup of coffee a month.”

 

The City of Wyoming’s request is not an increase to voters but would allow the city more flexibility in using the library maintenance funds for park improvements.

 

“By being creative, by being flexible, we can meet the needs of this community without having to ask voters for an increase in millage,” said Rynbrandt, who oversees the city’s Park and Recreation Department.

 

More than $650,000 in facility improvements have been made at the library, which is located at 3350 Michael Ave. SW. Those improvements have included a new roof and the conversion of the former library cafe into a public meeting space. The library is part of the Kent District Library system, which provides for all of the materials, books, CDs, etc. Those materials are covered by the KDL millage. The city’s library maintenance millage is only for the facility and would have no impact on the operation of the library, Rynbrandt said.

 

“So here we are at the point now where we are saying that we don’t need to make significant investment in library maintenance for the next ten years so we have a choice,” Rynbrandt said. “Can we ask the voters to recognize maintenance and capital needs in the park system and would they allow us the flexibility to use some of those library maintenance funds on park capital.”

 

Every five years, the City of Wyoming meets with residents and city staff to review needs at its parks. Through that process, the city has recognized more than $23 million in park improvements. In 1994, Wyoming residents did grant a park millage which for the past 20 years the city has been able to invest and maintain the parks without an increase, Rynbrandt said.

 

However, within four years the city has had several natural disasters — a 2013 flood, and 2014 and 2016 tornados — which has created a greater need, Rynbrandt said. Highlighting some of those needs is Ideal Park, one of the four parks that would receive funding through the millage proposal. Ideal Park was severally impacted from the 2014 tornado with its playground equipment destroyed. The city was able to remove much of the debris and get the park reopened only to have the 2016 tornado cause more damage.

 

Ideal Park was closed after the 2014 tornado caused serve damage, destroy the park’s playground.

Learning from those lessons, Rynbrandt said the city recognizes that it needs to improve the security at the park along with the entrances and exits. The city also would like to replace the playground equipment as well, she said.

 

Another park is Gezon Park, located between Gezon Parkway and 52nd Street, which has had tremendous residential growth around it. A site plan was developed for the park in 1996, which needs to be reviewed, Rynbrandt said since things have changed so much around the park.

 

“We didn’t have splash pads back then,” Rynbrandt said as example of some of the changes. The south and north ends of the park have been developed, but the center of the park remains mostly open with residents asking when will the development for that area begin.

 

Also on the list is Ferrand Park, a small pocket park located off of Byron Center, that serves a very dense residential area, Rynbrandt said. The park has not had any improvements or new equipment in a number of years.

 

Jackson Park is the last park on the list. Located at 1331 33rd St. SW, this park, which at one time had a swimming pool, is in an area that was once Lake Alexandria and floods frequently. One of the goals is to improve the stormwater control along with security and safety as well as put in a restroom and improve parking.

 

For more about the millage request and the four parks, visit wyparks.com or visit wyomingmi.gov and go to Parks and Recreation.

 

New Bond will help KPS Students Compete in a Global Economy

KPS School BusWhen voters initially voted down a $64.86 million bond proposal back in May (by only 353 votes), the Kentwood School District asked for feedback from the community and learned that voters did not understand all of the bond’s components. After clarifying the projects the bond would fund—building, security, and technology upgrades and improvements—the new bond was placed back on the November ballot and passed by a vote count of 3,125 to 2,108 on Nov. 3.

“Our community has considered this opportunity with a great deal of care and interest, and has responded in support of our students, families and the broader community as partners in supporting excellence in education,” said Michael Zoerhoff, Superintendent Kentwood Public Schools. “Kentwood has always been a district built on fiscal responsibility, demonstrating prudent management of public funds. We are committed to continue to exercise this same responsibility with the funds generated by this proposal.”

The district has about 8,800 students.

If you live in Kentwood and own a $100,000-dollar home, the bond will cost you about 72 cents per week (an increase from 3.5 mills to 4.25 mills). Here’s where your money will be spent to help students to compete in a global society:

Technology (25% of bond)Kentwood Public Schools Logo

  • New computers and devices to replace outdated technology.
  • Upgrades to the District’s network infrastructure and modernizations at each school location to support and serve more wireless technology.
  • Remodeled media centers with technology updates.
  • Flexible Collaboration Center spaces focusing on state-of-the-art technology and large group instruction throughout the District.

Safety and Security (27% of bond)

  • Updated building-wide communications systems.
  • Gradual replacement of aging school buses. The district currently has a fleet of 43 buses, but only 38 are operational.
  • Updated playgrounds to meet current safety standards.
  • Remodeled school entryways to provide a friendly lobby and limited access to students and classrooms.
  • Enhanced security measures in all schools, including remote-access cameras and ID monitoring.
  • Improved, safer pedestrian and vehicle traffic to and from the Kentwood facilities.
  • Upgrades to plumbing, mechanical, electrical and building systems to extend their useful life and improve operational efficiency.
  • Collaborative, multi-purpose learning centers to support 21st-century education practices.
  • Replacement of aged doors and windows to improve building efficiency.
  • Updated building finishes with new carpet, ceilings and furniture.
  • Improved and expanded parking lots and paved areas.
  • Renovated elementary school media centers, including new technology and furniture.

Operational Efficiency and Building Renovations (48% of bond)

  • Upgrades to plumbing, mechanical, electrical and building systems to extend their useful life and improve operational efficiency.
  • Replacement of aged doors and windows to improve building efficiency.
  • Updated building finishes with new carpet, ceilings and furniture.
  • Improved and expanded parking lots and paved areas.
  • Renovated elementary school media centers, including new technology and furniture.
  • Collaborative, multi-purpose learning centers to support 21st-century education practices.

Kentwood School DistrictThe Kentwood Public Schools remains committed to providing an education of excellence to every child that we serve,” said Zoerhoff. “Each teacher and staff member at KPS seeks to partner with our families to ensure that positive relationships are developing within the school environment and that high expectations are reflected in the arts, athletics, and within each of our academic programs.”

Specific building project listings and renderings for each school are on display at on the KPS website.

More information can be found on the Facebook pages for Kentwood Public Schools and Kentwood Friends for Education.

Images courtesy of Kentwood Public Schools Facebook page