Bond Proposal Overview
This page is dedicated to understanding the bond proposal. If the bond proposal is approved, there is expected to be NO TAX RATE INCREASE from the current rate for FHPS property owners, and it would provide $340 million to fund capital improvements throughout the district.
What Every Taxpayer Should Know about the Bond Proposal
If approved, there is expected to be NO tax rate increase from the current rate.
The amount of the bond proposal is for $340 million.
If approved, the bond proposal would fund capital improvements through 2031.
Vote by November 7, 2023.
Key Components of the Bond Proposal
Modernize Learning Spaces to Prepare Students for the Future
- Continue to create flexible and dynamic learning environments
- Flexible furniture
- Integrated technology
- Provide project-based learning environments to support collaborative learning
- Add accessible playground equipment
Improve Athletics, Fine Arts & Community Facilities to Enhance Experiences
- Construct a new aquatic center to replace the aging community pool
- Expand athletic facilities to increase access and playability
- Update the Fine Arts Center
- Update the Community Center
Update Infrastructure to Address Aging Systems and Inefficiencies
- Fund continual improvements to safety and security infrastructure within our district because school safety solutions are evolving
- Replace aging buses to keep the fleet modern and safe
- Replace systems at the end of their useful life cycle
- Upgrade critical mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems
- Replace roofing, parking lots, and sidewalks
- Update technology infrastructure
Community Presentation Slides
A PDF of the PowerPoint slides is available to download. Click the image above or click here to view a PDF copy of the slides. This presentation was given at the FHPS Board of Education meeting on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023.
Commonly-Asked Questions about the Bond Proposal
A bond proposal is how a public school district asks its community for authorization to borrow money to pay for capital improvements. Voter-approved bond funds may be spent on projects 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.
If approved by voters, the combined FHPS debt millage rate is estimated to remain the same as the current levy with no tax rate increase to property owners.
The current debt millage tax rate of 6.05 mills is estimated to remain the same if the bond proposal is approved by voters on Nov. 7, 2023.
While funding from this bond proposal is independent of 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, mechanical systems, and technology. The operational savings generated from new and cost-efficient facilities could be redirected to student programs and resources.
The district has consistently studied the current and projected needs of school buildings and educational programs to determine a facility plan. Using this information, supplemented with staff input, district leaders and the board of education are now asking voters to consider a school bond proposal on the Nov. 7, 2023 election ballot.
The bond proposal focuses on three key areas:
- Modernize learning spaces to prepare students for the future
- Improve athletics, fine arts + community facilities to enhance experiences
- Update infrastructure to address aging systems and inefficiencies
- Voters last approved a bond in 2018.
- Many projects were completed or are currently in the process, including classroom renovations at Northern High, Eastern High, Central Middle, Ada Vista Elementary, Collins Elementary, Orchard View Elementary, Pine Ridge Elementary, and Thornapple Elementary. The athletic stadium at Central High School was updated, as well as numerous roofing, paving, and infrastructure improvements across the district. The new Administration Office/Transition Center is currently under construction on the Fine Arts Center campus.
- While many projects were accomplished with the 2018 bond, not all schools received improvements to their building. The 2023 bond proposal seeks to continue district-wide improvements to modernize learning spaces, improve athletics and community facilities, and update infrastructure.
- To look back on the 2018 bond, click here. To see some of the projects that have been completed, visit our blog page linked here.
Dollar amounts are included in our slide presentation shown above on this page, and linked here.
Many projects were completed or are currently in the process of being completed with funds from the 2018 bond. These projects include classroom renovations at Northern High/Project NEXT, Eastern High, Central Middle, Ada Vista Elementary, Collins Elementary, Orchard View Elementary, Pine Ridge Elementary, and Thornapple Elementary. The athletic stadium at Central High School was updated, as well as numerous roofing, paving, and infrastructure improvements across the district. Therefore, if a school’s learning environment received renovations from the 2018 bond, they do not need as much work as other schools who may not have received learning environment enhancements.
Schools across the district range in age from 19 years to 69 years, with the newer schools located in the Eastern side of the district. It is important that students, regardless of which area of the district they live in, have an equitable learning environment. Over the years, FHPS has made improvements to our facilities, and this bond seeks to continue to bring learning spaces across the district to similar standards. An example of this is the improvements made to Orchard View Elementary from the previous bond; similar improvements would be made to Ada Elementary. Another example at the High School level would be recent improvements to Northern High School; enhancements are proposed to be made at Central High School.
Over the years, FHPS has invested in upgrades, additions, and improvements to various school buildings and infrastructure systems, but there are millions of square feet of facilities, and acres of land that FHPS is entrusted by the community to maintain. As a school district, it is our responsibility to make sure our schools are safe and inspiring places for students to learn.
Michigan law requires that expenditure of bond proceeds 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 is completed and filed with the Department of Treasury at the end of each series to ensure compliance.
No. The bonds are proposed to be issued in multiple series. This allows for years of bond repayments to occur before a new bond issue is completed.
The school aid budget is for day-to-day operating expenditures such as teacher and support staff wages, instructional supplies, repairs and maintenance, and utilities.
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.
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.
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.
After a successful bond election, bond projects go through a (1) design phase, (2) state approval phase, (3) bidding phase, and (4) construction phase. For new construction, the design phase portion alone could take at least 12 months 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 cannot disrupt the students’ schedule and therefore must be coordinated with the district’s calendar.
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 law, as outlined in 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.
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.
The number of tennis courts at all three high schools would be expanded to provide the opportunity to host post-season athletic events.
The athletic field projects vary by high school. All three high school baseball and softball fields would move to an artificial turf surface allowing earlier access in the spring as well as using the space for other purposes in the off-season. Eastern High and Northern High would also receive a second artificial turf field, similar to the second turf field at Central High.
The current pool is 30 years old. A new pool would provide the opportunity to host post-season athletic events. A smaller, warmer pool area is also included for our non-competitive aquatic programs. The new pool would support athletics, community wellness, and student clubs. It would provide additional space for events, practices, and meets, and provide more space for large gatherings. Community members are also experiencing access issues with pool, and this new pool is intended to be shared with the community to support programs such as swimming lessons, senior swimming, lap swim, etc.
The current pool would be filled in and the area would be repurposed. Ideas are not finalized, but include additional spaces for our community enrichment programming, meeting spaces, etc. The building is also scheduled for updating to better accommodate the change in our community programming.
Bonds and operating millages are two different sources of income for schools. A bond proposal is how a public school district asks its community for authorization to borrow money to pay for capital improvements. 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 and audited by an independent auditing firm. To learn more about the operating millage, click here.
We have so much information about both proposals that we have another page dedicated to information about the operating millage proposal. Click here to learn more about the operating millage proposal.
Ballot and Voting Information
Forest Hills Public Schools Bonding Proposal
Shall Forest Hills Public Schools, Kent County, Michigan, borrow the sum of not to exceed Three Hundred Forty Million Dollars ($340,000,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefor, in one or more series, for the purpose of:
remodeling, equipping and re-equipping and furnishing and refurnishing school buildings; erecting, furnishing and equipping additions to school buildings; acquiring, installing and equipping or re-equipping school buildings for instructional technology; purchasing school buses; erecting, furnishing and equipping athletic facilities; and preparing, developing, improving and equipping playgrounds, play fields, athletic fields, athletic facilities and sites?
The following is for informational purposes only:
The estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2024 is 2.00 mills ($2.00 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a 0 mills net increase over the prior year’s levy. The maximum number of years the bonds of any series may be outstanding, exclusive of any refunding, is twenty-one (21) years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 3.46 mills ($3.46 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).
(Pursuant to State law, expenditure of bond proceeds must be audited, and the proceeds cannot be used for repair or maintenance costs, teacher, administrator or employee salaries, or other operating expenses.)
If you’d like to view a sample ballot for the upcoming election, track the status of an absentee ballot and verify your voter registration information, visit Michigan Voter Information Center through the Michigan Secretary of State. Information pertaining to the November election should be updated and available soon on their website.
Visit the Michigan Voter Information Center to register to vote online. It is recommended by the Secretary of State to register by mail by October 23, 2023, to participate in the November 7, 2023 election. Individuals may also register in-person at their local clerk’s office through November 7, 2023, with the required documentation. For assistance in obtaining the address of your local clerk, visit Michigan.gov/vote.
Owners of property are only eligible to vote if they reside in the school district boundaries.
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.
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
College and university students have the option to register at their home address or campus address. Students can vote in person at their polling place or with an absentee ballot. Regardless of which option they choose, as a college student, it is critical that they register and vote as early as possible. For more information about college and university students registering to vote, click here.
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 September 28 through election day, November 7, 2023.
Registering to Vote:
- The last day for voters to register by mail is October 23, 2023.
- Voters may register in-person through Tuesday, November 7, 2023 (election day) with the required documentation.
- Absentee voter ballots are available by September 23 until Tuesday, November 7, 2023.
- Contact your local clerk with questions.
Tuesday, November 7, 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, November 7, 2023.
If you are unsure of your polling location, click here for an online search of where you can vote based on your name and zip code or driver’s license: https://mvic.sos.state.mi.us/Voter/Index. You may also contact your local city/township office.
Polling locations are open on election day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The following documents are available in PDF format. If you are having difficulties accessing any of these documents, please email us and we’ll be happy to assist you. Additional documents will be added when they become available.