Portage Public Schools' bond request would replace, renovate elementary schools

PPS - limited teacher space.jpg
Posted at 11:33 AM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 11:33:06-04

PORTAGE, Mich. — Portage Public Schools has launched an effort to inform voters about a bond request to replace or update elementary schools.

If approved during a special election Aug. 3, residents will not see a tax increase from the $175.7 million bond proposal, according to a news release Wednesday.

The district wants to use the money to do the following:

  • Replace five aging elementary schools – Amberly, Angling Road, Central, Haverhill and Woodland, all of which are between 53 to 61 years old
  • Renovate Moorsbridge Elementary, which has several specific needs
  • Purchase new, fuel-efficient buses to replace older ones
  • Purchase and update technology
PPS - outdated boiler.jpg
PPS - exterior issues.jpg
PPS - deteriorating entry.jpg

“We have a unique opportunity,” PPS Superintendent Mark Bielang said. “We can finish the task of addressing critical facility needs, bring all of our schools up to modern learning standards and do it without raising taxes.”

Between completion of a previous bond obligation, current low interest rates and the district’s good financial condition overall, the new bond would result in zero millage increase, according to Bielang.

The plan is to build all five of the new elementary schools on their current sites.

The new Central Elementary will have a capacity of 600 students, an increase from its current capacity of 450 students.

The new Angling, Haverhill and Woodland elementary schools would continue to have a capacity of 450 students each.

Amberly Elementary would continue to have a capacity of 600 students.

Increasing the capacity of Central Elementary and minor redistricting would eliminate overcrowding at Amberly, Moorsbridge and 12th Street elementary schools.

Bielang says each school will offer “crucial” features, including collaborative study space, modern technology, enhanced safety and security and energy-efficient power, ventilation, heating and cooling and air filtration.

These new schools would also ease overcrowding and fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as feature safer and better-flowing drop-off area for buses and private vehicles, district officials said.

“Education has changed over the last few decades,” Bielang said. “The idea of students sitting in rows of desks all day while a teacher lectures to them isn’t how it’s done. It’s much more collaborative now. Students work together in teams, just like in the real world. The demands are different, expectations are different, so the instructional spaces need to reflect that.”

If approved, the bond would cap a focused effort by PPS – with community input – to bring all schools to modern learning standards.

“Over the years, we’ve met the needs of our high school students, our middle school students, and now it’s time to address these older facilities that serve our elementary students,” Bielang said. “In addition to having the best curriculum possible, we want to have facilities that meet our students’ needs.”

More information about the bond request can be found on the district’s website here.