GLADSTONE, Mich. (WZMQ) – On November 7, Gladstone voters will see a bond proposal for the public school district on the ballot.
According to the Gladstone Area Public Schools Superintendent Jay Kulbertis, the proposed bond will allow the district to improve facilities to better meet students’ needs. He says it will also decrease the tax rate.
“This proposal will lower the tax levy to 5.75, which would be the lowest tax rate we’ve had in 25 years, lock that in over time, address the facility needs—high school, junior high, Cameron Elementary, Jones Elementary, our bus garage, our athletic fields,” said Kulbertis.
One of those needs is more inclusive equipment, particularly on the playgrounds.
“When our playgrounds were first installed, we were careful to meet ADA requirements,” Kulbertis said. “Since then, we’ve realized those are minimum standards. And as we’ve seen some of our students struggle to be included, we realized we need to do a better job of making our playgrounds accessible.”
Another focus is safety.
“It’s not just our entrances,” said Kulbertis. “It’s fob access for entry and exit, working with public safety on our communication system, working to get our glass walkways with entry-resistant film. There are some common sense things that have been recommended to us that, up to this point, we haven’t been able to afford out of our general fund.”
Academically, the district hopes to expand STEM programs, update classrooms, and continue to improve the schools’ roofing, ventilation, electrical, and plumbing systems. Kulbertis especially wants to bring industrial arts back to the middle school.
“Our junior high kids are really excited about being able to do things with their hands, and we don’t have a facility that makes that easy,” he said. “We’ve got a spot that makes sense, but that’s currently where our wrestlers are housed. Moving our wrestlers up to the high school would then open up that space at the junior high to add industrial arts back.”
Other long-term goals include adding space at Cameron Elementary for a preschool. Kulbertis says locking taxes in at a lower rate will allow the district to plan ahead. He says it will also give taxpayers some peace of mind.
“That’s why we’re selling the bonds in a series—one projected for 2024, the next bond sale in 2026, and then we’ll have years after that even to look into the future to say, ‘What are our upcoming needs?'” he explained. “By locking that in, what we’re saying is, ‘We’re not going to come back to increase that five, ten years down the road. We want people to be able to build that into their budget, enjoy a little bit of a tax rate, and then have peace of mind that it’s stable.”
Voters in the Gladstone Area School District are invited to an informational town hall meeting on Wednesday, October 18. It will be held at the Gladstone High School auditorium at 6:30 p.m.