Grand Rapids School District Could Pitch $70 Million Referendum
School Board to Decide on Future For District 318
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The school board of District 318, made up of Grand Rapids and Big Fork, is deciding whether to renovate current school buildings, or seek funding for two completely new elementary schools.
Over the past 5 years, the student body has outgrown the current buildings, some which were constructed in 1920, others in the mid-1950s.
Teachers are finding themselves forced to provide instruction in cramped classrooms, hallways, old shower rooms, and even in and under stairwells.
Superintendent Bruce Thomas says these conditions are not conducive to good learning, and the lack of space has led district officials to turn down opportunities to offer expanded programming.
“For example, in an elementary school, quite often what you see in progressive districts, are foreign languages, or art, or your music programs. We basically don’t have the opportunity to do that because of the space,” Thomas explained.
Renovating the current buildings is projected to cost $32 million, while building two new elementary schools would cost an estimated $70 million.
The school board will vote on May 4 about which direction to go in.
If approved, the vote would likely take place this November.