Former school board member and county commissioner rejects Pentwater bond proposal.

October 16, 2021

Architect’s drawing of the proposed project.

Former school board member and county commissioner rejects Pentwater bond proposal.

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Dear Editor:

I write to you today as a PHS graduate, a former Pentwater school board member, 30-plus year local business owner, former Oceana County commissioner, a property owner and member of other community organizations. I am a dedicated supporter of the Pentwater community and our schools.

I will vote no on a Pentwater school millage request for the first time in my life!

Here below are my reasons.

1. Portions of the Nov. 2 ballot proposal include physical plant additions that are not supported by “needs” documentation. I agree that the existing physical plant needs significant infrastructure, functional, and aesthetic upgrades. Many code and safety improvements are undoubtedly necessary. I believe a millage for the cost of those needs, and a more modest proposal for additional improvements would easily win everyone’s approval.

2. Unnecessary burdensome cost structure: Spreading the $23,900,000 cost over 30 years keeps the annual payments lower. But we have learned during the last large bond 20 years ago that financing renovations on a 30-year structure has proven not wise. Will this renovation last 10 years longer than the last one? In other words, how many times will we layer our debt, because these repairs cannot be expected to last 30 years? Finally, a 30-year financing structure costs the school district taxpayers approximately 40 million dollars.

3. Declining student enrollment. The past few years reflect a small enrollment decline and future projections do not anticipate an increase. Our “out of formula” status allows Pentwater to invest more than other schools in our area in per pupil spending and the success rate of our students is commendable. Declining enrollment calls into question the scope of the construction. The much larger gym and new auditorium are examples to examine if the scope is too large.

In summary, though I stand in support of the efforts to proactively maintain the Pentwater school’s facilities, the current proposal before the voters on Nov. 2 should be rejected. I compassionately propose a less expensive project.

Dean Gustafson


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