January 22, 2016
It is difficult to believe today marks the halfway point of this school year. Thus far, we have experienced incredible success in every aspect of our programming and are very much looking forward to the months that lie ahead. It would be greatly appreciated if you would take a minute to send a note, e-mail, or personal touch of encouragement and thanks to the teachers, administrators, support staff, and/or bus drivers who work with your children every single day. By taking time to do this, you will energize those individuals who are working so diligently to make a difference in the lives of your children. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.
I am thrilled to share with you some great news about the Jenison community in which we live. We are growing! Jenison Public Schools has become a destination school district for many new families. We have much to offer in our schools that are drawing new families to our district. Real estate agents have shared with me that available homes in the Jenison school district do not remain on the market for very long. Since homes are in such high demand, property values have increased. The addition of sixty new students this year has helped us to wipe out a projected budget deficit and thus, we should end the school year with a balanced budget.
It is exciting to witness the revitalization of the Jenison community. With growth, come opportunities, which are masked in obstacles that have to be overcome. Currently, our buildings are utilizing all of the possible space that is available to them for instructional purposes. For those who have recently been in our elementary schools you have been able to see with your own eyes that we have reached capacity and beyond in these buildings. We are in need of creating additional space for our expanding student population.
In planning for the continued future growth of our school district, the Jenison Public School’s Board of Education is in the process of purchasing 19 acres of land located at the corner of Baldwin and 28th avenue next to Fair Haven church. It is our hope that in the very near future we will be able to build a new school building on this property that would enable us to free up needed elementary classroom space in our current buildings. Through our investigation, it was found that it would be much less expensive to build a new building than try to add classrooms on to our existing buildings. In addition, our school parking lots could not begin to handle the added pressure of additional traffic. We are currently discussing the possibility of housing our 0-5 years of age student population and our Spanish Immersion program in this new building.
In addition to dealing with our exciting growth, we have other district needs that must be addressed. One of my most important responsibilities is to provide a safe and secure learning environment for our students and staff. With this in mind, there is an immediate need to enhance the security into our junior high and high school front entrances, much like we have already done in our elementary schools. Additional security cameras need to be added to our elementary schools for an extra measure of security as well. Our aging bus fleet can no longer be ignored. Eleven of our buses are between 16-23 years old and have 150,000 – 200,000+ miles on them. There is a need to update our bus fleet as soon as possible in order to provide safe and reliable transportation for our students.
We are at a point where our older technology has to be replaced and new technology purchased to keep our students working on developing their 21st century skills that are so vital for their future. In addition, our aging buildings have structural needs that if not taken care of now will cost a whole lot more money in the future to fix. Our elementary school furniture is in great need of being replaced. With the current funding that we receive from the State of Michigan it is very difficult to set aside any dollars to meet the capital needs of our district or purchase new technology for our students. Every dollar we receive from the State of Michigan is used to fund the “operation” of our schools. The manner in which the current funding mechanism is set up in our state is that money is provided for operational costs, but infrastructure and capital needs falls on the shoulders of the taxpayers in each community.
Every public school district in the State of Michigan is dealing with this same issue. For example, over the course of the past five years Hudsonville Public Schools has generated approximately $86 million through bond issues and sinking funds in order to take care of their district needs. Likewise, Grandville Public Schools has also gone to their voters to generate $73 million to address the infrastructure needs within their district. During this same time period, Jenison Public Schools was afforded $33 million dollars in 2011 that enabled us to deal with many district needs.
So as to provide a secure learning environment, safe transportation, and accommodate our growth, the Jenison Public Schools Board of Education recently passed a resolution calling for a $25 million Bond Proposal to be voted on by our community on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. The great news in regard to this Bond Proposal is that the current levy of 8.5 mills will not change. Jenison Public Schools is expected to be able to generate $25 million of needed revenue without changing the current tax levy on our taxpayers. To be clear, this Bond Proposal is not a tax levy increase.
Over the years, our community has been overwhelmingly gracious to Jenison Public Schools in providing outstanding facilities and new technology for our students to learn and grow. We hesitate to be bringing another Bond Proposal to the voters of our community, but our needs are great. This is the only avenue that is available to us to generate the revenues needed to meet the infrastructure and capital needs of our school district. The fact that we can generate $25 million without increasing the tax levy on our taxpayers is why our Board of Education has called for this Bond Proposal. Tuesday, May 3, 2016, is the date of the election.
I realize that this has been a very lengthy communication. I sincerely appreciate your taking time to read through all of it. As Superintendent of Schools, it is my job to educate you on all that is happening within your schools. This is your school district and we are working diligently to be good stewards of all the resources that you have provided to educate and train the children of our community. Over the course of the next several months, I will be providing additional factual updates regarding the challenges that we are facing. There will also be several community forums you will be able to attend to get additional information regarding this upcoming Bond Proposal. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss your questions, concerns, or even your suggestions for the future or our school district.
Superintendent, Jenison Public Schools
Kindergarten Screening Appointments
To schedule an appointment for Kindergarten Screening, click on the link below. Contact Lorri at (616) 457-8839 or via email at Lgierman@jpsonline.org with questions.
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