Phone: (616) 786-2050

2019 Bond

BOND FACTS

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May 7, 2019 Bond Proposal

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is the May 7, 2019 bond proposal?

On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, our community will vote on a bond proposal to fund capital improvements to our schools and facilities. If approved by voters, there is expected to be NO MILLAGE RATE INCREASE over the 2018 debt levy, and the proposal would provide $97,950,000 for improvements to our schools and facilities. This is a proposal to keep us competitive by upgrading our facilities to prepare us for the next 20 years.

The District would initially sell a portion of the bonds and then, in the next few years, the remaining bonds would be sold.  We purposely sell the bonds over time to minimize the cost to our taxpayers.  

 

How is there no millage rate increase?

West Ottawa can extend the current 7.75 millage rate by an additional 5 to 10 years and not have to increase the millage rate by aggressively paying down its debt (refunding or refinancing outstanding bonds in 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2017), growth in property values for the area, and ‘tightening its financial belt’ as much as possible without harming the education students receive. 

 

 

What are the key features of this bond proposal?

Construction updates and facility improvements were agreed upon (by nearly 80 percent) with community input through an EPIC-MRA phone survey conducted in June 2018 and last fall’s community forums.  These updates and improvements will create a safe and sustainable atmosphere conducive to student learning in school buildings with an average age of 41 years.

Facility improvements include:

  • Secure building entrances at both High School buildings and Sheldon Woods Elementary School
  • Classroom improvements at Harbor Lights Middle School (built in 1961)
  • Plumbing upgrades at Sheldon Woods Elementary School
  • Mechanical upgrades at Waukazoo Elementary School (built in 1956)
  • Elementary casework upgrades
  • District paving upgrades
  • District playground improvements
  • District roofing replacements
  • District technology upgrades
  • Barrier-free toilet upgrades in the elementary buildings
  • Band / orchestra instruments
  • New buses

The plan for facility improvements through bond funds would likely have a positive impact on the operating budget.  It would allow the District to reallocate operating funds currently spent on aging facilities and redirect savings generated from cost efficient facilities to student programs and resources.

Construction updates include:

  • New 1,200-seat Performing Arts Center on the High School campus
  • New 5,000-seat, multi-sport Athletics Stadium on the High School campus
  • New PK-5 Elementary Building

These additional facilities would offer greater access to space that currently have capacity issues and programming limitations.  As the sixth largest district in Kent and Ottawa Counties, these facilities would offer expanded resources to our growing community.

Construction of a new elementary school in the southeast area of the district would better serve our families living in that region of the District and allow the District to offer new elementary programming.

 

Why build a new multi-sport stadium on the high school campus vs. making improvements to the current football stadium on the middle school campus?

A new 5,000-seat multi-sport stadium on the high school campus will meet the current needs of the district and allow it to remain competitive.  West Ottawa’s current football stadium is one of the oldest in Kent and Ottawa counties.

Our current football stadium, constructed in the 1960s, was designed for a district of 2,000 students and 1 football team and is located at what was then the high school campus.  Today we have over 6,700 students and 3 football teams at the high school level.  In addition, we have boys and girls soccer, boys and girls lacrosse, and many additional teams at the middle school level.

The spectator seating and restroom facilities at the current stadium do not meet the needs of our population. Making any upgrades to these facilities would put the district in the position of having to spend additional funds to update the entire stadium and restrooms to become ADA-compliant.  The District and community members surveyed and involved in the community forums prefer those funds to be funneled into a new multi-sport stadium at the desired location of the current high school campus. 

The new multi-sport athletic stadium, with turf fields, will provide:

  • Access for marching bands, high school football, soccer, lacrosse, and rugby
  • High School games to be played on the High School campus
  • Support for physical education classes and marching band programs
  • Improved spectator environment
  • Access for community youth athletic programs

 

Will the new multi-sport Athletics Stadium on the high school campus include a track?

No. Becasue the structure of the track at the middle school was/is failing, the replacement was included as part of the 2014 bond.  It was resurfaced in 2013 as a short-term solution, and the field events were redone as part of the middle school campus redesign.  The entire structure will be removed and replaced in Phase 2 of the 2014 bond.  Our best guess is construction will take place during the summer of 2020.  The visiting bleachers will be removed and the area will be given a facelift.

The track at the high school campus will also be resurfaced in Phase 2 of the 2014 bond.

 

Why build a new Performing Arts Center (PAC)?

Our concern with the current PAC is not about the number of seats, it’s about the number of performing groups we have and scheduling them into the PAC.  Currently, elementary students do not have access.  The current PAC cannot support the scheduling needs of a district the size of West Ottawa without sacrificing opportunity for students.

The current PAC was part of the 1987 bond.  At that time, we had 17 performance groups and 4,433 students in the district.  Today we have over 33 performance groups at the secondary level trying to, and 8 elementary schools wanting to, schedule events into the PAC.  A new PAC would allow us to schedule additional events and provide an advanced learning environment on our high school campus. 

A new 1,200-seat Performing Arts Center will:

  • Meet our present scheduling demands for the district performance groups and community events
  • Increase safety by eliminating travel between buildings for rehearsals
  • Be state-of-the-art (sound, lighting, etc.)

 

Why build a new elementary school when the District recently closed Glerum Elementary School?

Construction of a new elementary school in the southeast area of the district would better serve our families living in that area and would allow us to offer new elementary programming. It would be a three- or four-section building housing neighborhood kids and expanded programming.  Although we still need to have further discussion on exactly what additional programming could be offered, it would provide additional space to expand our highly desirable magnet programs and/or add others.  There currently is much interest in the expansion of the Spanish Immersion program, but we really do not have the space to do so.

The closing of Glerum Elementary School, our oldest building at that time, allowed us to move toward neighborhood school assignments through the realignment of several of our elementary school boundaries. Since we do not currently provide a neighborhood school in this area of our district, it is more convenient for many of our families to drop their children off at a school in another district while driving east for work. 

Additionally, a few years ago, the state added All Day Every Day Kindergarten for every student and it doubled the number of our classrooms required.

 

What research and community input went into the development of this proposal?

Construction updates and facility improvements were agreed upon with community input through an EPIC-MRA phone survey in June 2018 and last fall’s community forums.  WOPS developed multiple master plan options, which went through further refinement.

In November 2018, the board of education reviewed the scope of work and costs of each plan option, and arrived at the plan that will now appear on the May 7, 2019 ballot.

 

Why are these improvements necessary?

The average age of a West Ottawa school building is 41 years old. As a result of the community phone survey conducted in June 2018 and in each of our community forum meetings held last fall in preparation for the ballot initiative, we heard that improvements in the district should include construction updates and facility upgrades. Nearly 80 percent of community members requested a focus on aging infrastructure, including roofs, windows, cabinetry and paving.

Altogether, these upgrades would create a safe and sustainable atmosphere conducive to student learning. Those of you who have been with the district since 2014, when our community graciously passed a $90 million bond, have seen first-hand how such improvements can make a world of difference to all involved.

We have buildings whose needs could not be addressed in the 2014 bond that will now be addressed in this bond.  The only bond prior to the 2014 bond was in 2004 and all the funds went exclusively toward building the North High School.

 

 

Why is the district pursuing another bond, when the community just supported one five years ago?

At the time the 2014 bond was passed, we knew it was the first step in meeting the needs of our students as well as those of the community. To avoid undue burden on taxpayers, the District decided to address the most pressing infrastructural and community needs in two phases, keeping costs down while planning for the long-term.

We have buildings whose needs could not be addressed in the 2014 bond that will now be addressed in this bond.  The only bond prior to the 2014 bond was in 2004 and all the funds went exclusively toward building the North High School.

 

Where does the loan originate?

Hilltop Securities will sell the bonds publicly on the open market.

 

What is the interest rate?

The interest rate will be a competitive market rate at the time of sale.

 

Can citizens buy the bonds?

Yes.  Hilltop Securities will sell the bonds publicly on the open market.

 

What happens if the district needs more money?

The district can only spend what the voters approve.

 

 Did you know?

 

 

If I have additional questions not covered in this material, where can I get additional information?

Please feel free to reach out to the West Ottawa Public Schools administration office at 616-786-2050.

 

 

Where do I vote?

To vote, visit your local polling place. You can find your polling place by visiting the Michigan Government website here: https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1633_8716_11583—,00.html or visit the Michigan voter information center here: https://mvic.sos.state.mi.us/

 

 

This informational material is paid for by West Ottawa Public Schools, 1138 136th Avenue, Holland, MI  49424.

 

 

 

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