BLACKMAN TWP., Mich. — Northwest Community Schools is giving its $24.9 million bond another try.

The same 1.9-mill proposal, defeated by 82 votes in the May 8 election, will go before voters again in the Aug. 7 primary.

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The decision, approved by the district's Board of Education, is based on feedback from "yes" voters who just didn't go to the polls in May, Superintendent Geoff Bontrager said.

"We've heard loud and clear that people liked the proposal, but they just didn't get out and vote," Bontrager said. "They thought it was a slam-dunk because of all the positive things happening in Northwest since the 2013 bond passed, but it wasn't."

The proposal, billed to "improve, expand and inspire," picks up where the district's two successful 2013 bond issues totaling $40 million stopped, Bontrager has said. It would continue to address more than $120 million in needs identified in a 2012 facilities assessment.

"We knew the 2013 bond would not address all the things that had not been addressed in the 45 years before that," Bontrager said.

Prior to passing the 2013 bond, Northwest had nine failed proposals dating back to 1990.

The 2,002 "no" votes in the May 2018 election were similar in number to the roughly 2,049 "no" votes in May 2013. However the 1,920 "yes" votes this May were nearly 1,000 fewer than the "yes" votes cast in 2013.

"It shows that every vote does count, and we need every single yes vote," Bontrager said.

While the district would levy 1.9 mills over the life of the bonds, voters will only see .92 mills listed on the August ballot. That's because the proposal would only cover half of the year initially, said Laurie Lewis, Northwest's director of business and finance.

The plan for the funds is unchanged from the May proposal, Bontrager said. If passed, the 25-year bonds will fund classroom additions at all schools. Here is a breakdown by building of the proposed bond dollars.

  • Northwest High School — $4.6 million for six new classrooms; air conditioning; upgrades/replacement of driveways, sidewalks, parking lots and site lighting; remodel of commons area.
  • Northwest High School fine arts — $4.2 million for new band, choir and theater classrooms.
  • Northwest High School skilled trades — $503,000 to turn current band and choir classrooms into manufacturing, information technology and skilled trades classrooms.
  • Athletic Complex Improvements — $5.8 million to replace current tennis courts with new ones southwest of the high school; replace football field with synthetic turf field; replace current grass soccer field; replace track; upgrade stadium bleachers, lighting and fencing; add air conditioning, replace ducts and upgrade lighting in original competition gym.
  • Kidder Middle School — $4.3 million for six new classrooms; air conditioning; remodel of media center into new cafeteria/kitchen; remodel existing cafeteria/kitchen into media center and classroom; upgrade/replace driveways, sidewalks, parking lots and site lighting.
  • Northwest Upper Elementary School — $3.1 million for six new classrooms; remodel media center into classrooms and media center; upgrade heating and cooling; upgrade/replace driveways, sidewalks, parking lots and site lighting; address parking and current traffic pattern concerns.
  • Northwest Early Elementary School — $1.3 million for three new classrooms.
  • Northwest Education Center — $724,727 to replace current windows with energy-efficient models; upgrade/replace driveways, sidewalks, parking lots and site lighting.

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