Pentwater seeks $23.9 million bond Nov. 2.

October 4, 2021

Pentwater seeks $23.9 million bond Nov. 2.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

PENTWATER — Pentwater Public Schools is asking voters to approve a nearly $24 million bond proposal, Nov. 2, to fund improvements to the school and build a new gym and auditorium, running track and soccer field. 

Pentwater has not asked voters for funding in nearly 20 years since its last bond proposal in 2003.

Funds would be used to improve the existing school building with safety and security upgrades including a secure school entry, fire alarm panel, and ADA accessibility; remodeling roofs to address leaks, windows and boiler replacement; and upgrades to classroom flooring, cabinets, and furniture. Funds would also provide upgrades to the media center, locker rooms and restrooms.

“Currently, Pentwater has the lowest debt millage rate compared to surrounding districts,” said Superintendent/Principal Scott Karaptian. “Bond funds would be used for needed improvements, new infrastructure and resources needed to support 21st-century learning opportunities for students.

Pentwater’s current debt millage rate is 1.20 mills, and the proposed millage rate would be 4.05 mills — a difference of 2.85 mills.

The annual increase for a property owner with a market rate home of $100,000 ($50,000 taxable value) is expected to be $142.50 annually, or $11.88 per month.

“However, this December our debt mill is estimated to drop to .88, and if this bond passes the 4.05 mills would not be assessed until December of 2022 making the change from .88 to 4.05 equally the difference of 3.22 mills,” explained Karaptian. 

The first phase of the project would focus on renovation and upgrades to the existing facility. Construction would be expected to begin in the 2022-2023 school year. Phase 2, which includes the new gymnasium and auditorium, would begin the following school year. The project is expected to be fully completed by 2024.

The existing 1950s gymnasium was never designed for high school athletics, and the proximity of the court lines to walls and spectators is a safety concern, said Karaptian. The new gym would be large enough to host high school games and tournaments. The new auditorium would be large enough to host school and community events and performances, as well as graduation.

“Through our community forums, we learned that year-round activities are important to our residents,” said the superintendent. “As a result, we designed the new gym and auditorium as stand-alone facilities that would be available for the community use on a daily basis.” The gym would feature a walking track, fitness equipment and group exercise areas. The auditorium would be available for meetings and community use. The new track and soccer field would also be available for the community to use.

The original school building was built in the 1950s as a K-6 building, said Karaptian. The 6,120-square-foot gym was added in 1959 and was designed as an elementary school gym. “The high school wing was added to the complex in 1965, where much of the flooring, furniture and casework have not been updated since.”

“It’s time to start reinvesting back into the facilities and our children,” said the school leader. “Our kids don’t have a proper place to perform music.” The gym is “acoustically terrible” for band concerts, and its small size makes it unsafe for athletes, he said.

The proposed new gym would measure approximately 15,340-square-feet, more than doubling its predecessor. The old gym will continue to be used for physical education classes, and the new gym will be used for competition and community use, said Karaptian. 

“Our band has never had a proper facility to perform or host a musical concert or festival. The same can be said for our track team, which has produced many state qualifying runners without a properly-surfaced track for them to practice, let alone compete.”

The gym and auditorium would be located in a new building on the northwest side of campus. Final plans will not be developed until the bond passes. “When and/if it passes, we will then create committees to help design all aspects of the building,” said Karaptian.

The cost breakdown of the proposed project includes:

  • Renovations to existing building = $7.3 million
  • New gym = $6.9 million
  • New auditorium = $7 million
  • Track/soccer field = $2.7 million

“Pentwater Public Schools have been very good stewards of the taxpayers’ money and greatly appreciate the past support from the community.

“Our custodial staff, teachers, administrators and others have taken tremendous care of the facilities, but let’s face it, this building is old and things are wearing out. It is time to consider reinvesting in the school for our students, our community and our future.

“Pentwater is a small school district but our education performance has been far from small,” said Karaptian. “We have been ranked nationally as well as in the state as one of the highest-performing schools.”

“It’s an amazing place to be, and why would we not invest in it and make it the best possible place we can?”

For more information about the bond proposal, visit www.pentwaterschools.net.

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