Elementary school upgrades new focus of Ravenna’s $5.3M bond proposal after previous failed attempt

MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI — Ravenna Public Schools has modified a $5.3 million bond proposal to focus on elementary school upgrades, after the proposal previously failed by just 31 votes in the May election.

The proposal on the November 2 election ballot focuses largely on replacing the aging infrastructure at Beechnau Elementary School, including refurbishing the West Wing, updating playground equipment and replacing roofing. The amount of the request has not changed.

After the union failed in May, the district surveyed parents and community members to find out what mattered most to Ravenna’s taxpayers. Survey results showed that 87% of respondents said the district should go back to voters with some changes to the proposal.

“The vote for November 2 is very similar to Prop 2 from last May, which was defeated by just 30 votes,” Ravenna inspector Greg Helmer said in a prepared statement. “We are adjusting some of the funds to address critical areas at Beechanu Elementary such as roofing, heating/ventilation, control systems, windows, bathrooms, plumbing, electricity, lighting.”

The proposal calls for a tax increase of 0.9 million euros. According to the district, the owners of a $150,000 home with a taxable value of $75,000 would pay an additional $67.50 per year in property taxes.

In addition to elementary school improvements, the proposal would fund other district-wide projects such as the establishment of a project-based high school learning lab, high school classroom and stage for performing arts, and renovations to the fitness, wrestling, concessions and athletic lobbies.

Helmer said the district has adjusted its campaign strategy ahead of the November election by adding more reps to remind community members to vote. According to the survey, 34% of the 205 respondents did not vote in the May elections.

In the May election, the $5.3 million proposal was one of two school improvement bonds Ravenna had on the ballot. The first bond proposal, for $10.89 million, passed by 647 votes to 549, or 54% to 46%, according to the election results. This did not require an increase in the current tax rate.

The district’s second bond proposal, totaling $5.3 million, was rejected by a vote of 604 to 573 or 51% to 49%.

RELATED: Ravenna approves 1 of 2 school bond proposals for $10.8 million, Fruitport voters approve $8 million request

Robert Becklin, chairman of the Ravenna Board of Education, praised the district for going back to stakeholders to assess community needs.

“I am proud of how our District Leadership Team and Board of Education continue to listen, watch, learn and question our stakeholders to drive facility improvements for our current students and our students of the future,” he said in a prepared statement.

The proposed projects are part of Ravenna’s Strategic plan 2020-24said Helmer. The strategic plan drives district decision-making and was developed with input from staff, parents, community members, business owners and stakeholders.

Helmer said the proposed projects are critical to the district’s future success.

“Our outdated facilities and infrastructure are not wants, they are needs if we want our buildings to be functional, safe, secure and efficient for teaching and learning,” the inspector said.

The Ravenna school improvement band is the only school band on the ballot paper for Muskegon County voters on Nov. 2.

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