Northwest Schools moves forward after bond fails in second attempt

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JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) –- A Jackson County school district is going back to the drawing board after its big bond proposal was rejected by voters for the second time this year.

 

6 News has what’s next for Northwest Community Schools.

Supporters of the proposal were shocked and disappointed Tuesday night when the proposal failed a second time in the August election.

 

“We’re okay. And we’re going to make the best out of it,” said Superintendent Geoff Bontrager.

 

The $24.9 million bond proposal lost by 388 votes.

 

Compared with the May election when it lost by just 82 votes, Bontrager says the message from voters is clear.

 

“We wanted to make sure we did hear the community and you know, this speaks,” Bontrager said.

 

The bond would have been used to add new classrooms and reconfigure outdated spaces, along with upgrading athletic facilities, parking lots and security. 

 

Bontrager says it would have helped them keep pace with the district’s growing population.

 

“To kind of take that next step,” Bontrager said.

 

With the bond failing a second time, Bontrager says the Northwest community is now focused on moving forward and staying positive.

 

Administration is now evaluating how they can best use space in school buildings to accommodate more students.

 

Bontrager says they may have to resort to bringing in portable classrooms.

 

Plans for upgrades to arts and athletic facilities are also being looked at, but without the bond, the superintendent says all of this will happen slowly.

 

“Because this all comes out of the general fund. So it’s a balance between the programming that we want to continue for our students and balancing facilities,” Bontrager said.

 

Bontrager says there are no immediate plans to put the proposal back before voters.

 

Although more than half of the voters were against the proposal, the superintendent believes support for the district remains strong.

 

“We’re excited to move forward. It’s kind of like a bump in the road, but we know the direction we’re headed,” Bontrager said.

 

Another Jackson County school district lost its funding proposal in the August election.

 

The Western School District’s sinking fund was rejected by voters for a second time this year.

 

The superintendent says they’re disappointed, but ready to move forward with alternatives like applying for grants to improve school security and exploring the possibility of installing solar panels to reduce utility costs.

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