Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Community Update Presentation

On October 18, 2016, community members joined PPS Adminstrators, Architects, Construction Managers and others for an update on the Building the Future of Learning projects.  Here is the presentation featuring the updated campus layout, middle school interior layout and exterior development, Central High School natatorium design and the Northern High School stadium design.
Click here to see the full presentation

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Community Meeting Scheduled for October 18th

North Middle School
Little Theatre
5808 Oregon St.
6:30 pm

The community is invited to join us for the latest information on plans for the start of construction next spring on the new North Middle School, Portage Northern High School Athletic Facilities and the new pool at Portage Central High School The facilities will be the first to be completed under the $144 bond projects approved by voters in November 2015.

District Administrators and Project Architects will be on hand to present plans for Phase 1. Exterior plans and interior layouts for the new North and Central Middle Schools, Northern High School athletic facilities and Central High School’s pools will also be shared.  We will walk attendees through the construction documents and have updated information on construction timelines.  Time will  be set aside for questions from the audience.

The approved bond issue is funding several major components to improve Portage Public Schools with the goal of creating a 21st century learning environment:
  • Rebuilding Portage North and Portage Central Middle Schools
  • Updating Portage West Middle School
  • Building athletic facilities and pools at Portage Northern and Portage Central High Schools
  • Updating technology to include 1:1 computing in all PPS schools
  • Replacing aging school buses
If you have questions prior to the meeting contact the Community Relations Office at PPS at 269-323-5162.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Middle School Exterior Looks Approved

NOn Monday September 12th the School Board approved plans for the exterior looks and finishes for the new North Middle and Central Middle Schools.  While the buildings use a prototype floor plan and design, it is important to District that the new buildings fit in with their respective campuses. The exteriors of the buildings will differ in the color of brick and metal to complement the existing high schools, while still giving each building its own identity.

The School Board and Community also got a look at how designs are evolving for the Central High School pool,an addition to the high school building, and the new Northern High School stadium/athletic facility.

    Click here to see the full presentation 

With the approval, plans will move forward with construction documents. Bidding is expected to open in December.  Groundbreaking for the North Middle School and the Northern Stadium and fields, and the Central High School Pool  is slated for spring of 2017. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Project Update - Design/Development Plans Continue to Take Shape

At at special meeting, on  July 27th, members of the design/construction team presented the latest information to the School Board and the Community as plans progress in the Design/Development phase of the Building the Future of Learning plans.  The group focused specifically on the site plans, middle schools and pools, as well as the first look at the athletic event facilities (stadiums).

The presentation included a review of the site master plans for both the Portage Central and Portage Northern Campuses, including how the designs evolved over time as more information from user groups, and studies of the site, terrain, utilities, traffic studies and construction timelines became available.

Planning for the Northern site has been particularly challenging for the design team because of a smaller site and logistics of building  a new stadium where none exists. As the team evaluated the options they had to measure the future needs, and the previous investment in infrastructure. Safety during the construction process was also a large consideration in the decision making process. Much time has been spent on coordinating space availability to continue programs (particularly athletics) while impacting the least number of students during the construction timeline. Athletic Directors, Coaches, Boosters and Administration have been working together to coordinate the use and sharing of available facilities and fields during the transition.

In the presentation posted here you see the most detailed plans to date, and the rational for the decision making based on wants, needs, budget, space available and the unique qualities of each campus. Plans will continue to be refined as more detailed information becomes available.

Some people have been asking about how the Northern and Central campuses will compare once the construction is completed. The goal of the district and the design team has been, from the beginning, to have equitable facilities on both campuses.  The uniqueness and limitations of each site dictate that there will be some differences, particularly with the outdoor athletic facilities. To make it easy to compare we have come up with with a facility by facility comparison to see the similarities and the necessary differences.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A first look at schematic designs for new middle schools

The Board of Education and the community has had their first peek at the schematic designs for the new North and Central Middle Schools.  A schematic design defines the general scope and concept of the project including scale and relationships to other building components. The two middle schools are being planned using prototype designs.  This means the basic buildings will be the same with minor changes to accommodate the unique aspects of each campus.  The exterior materials, interior colors and other materials will vary to give each school its own identity and complement existing structures on each campus.   Click here to see the PowerPoint presentation to the Board of Education at the May 17, 2016 meeting.

Planning will now move into the design development stage in which more specific plans and details will be worked out. Advisory groups will continue to meet in the phase to provide input and insight. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Portage Public School's Bonds Well Received by Bond Market.

The Board of Education of the Portage Public Schools is proud to announce the successful sale of its 2016 School Building and Site and Refunding Bonds in the amount of $144,805,000.  A portion of the bond issue, in the amount of $72,310,000, will be used to finance the first projects approved by the voters on November 3, 2015.  The remainder of the bond issue, in the amount of $72,495,000, will be used for the purpose of refunding all of the School District’s outstanding 2008 School Building and Site Bonds.  The refunding portion of this issue will reduce the School District's interest expense by approximately $13,670,147.
In preparing to sell the 2016 School Building and Site and Refunding Bonds, the School District, working with its financial advisor, H.J. Umbaugh & Associates, requested that Standard & Poors Ratings Services ("S&P") evaluate the School District's credit quality.  S&P assigned the School District’s rating of "AA-" with a stable outlook.  The rating agency cited the School District's strong incomes and good financial management practices in their rationale for rating the School District.

“We had a great team working on this project”, said Mark Bielang, Superintendent of Portage Public Schools, “We are pleased that the way the bonds were structured, priced and sold leverages the taxpayers investment in Portage Public Schools and allows us to focus on achieving the best outcomes for our students.”

The School District's financing was conducted by the Michigan investment banking office of the brokerage firm, Stifel, the financial advising firm, H.J. Umbaugh & Associates and the law firm serving as bond counsel, Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C.  The School District's 2016 School Building and Site and Refunding Bonds were sold at a combined true interest rate of 2.90% with a final maturity of 2040 (a repayment term of approximately 24 years).

Jeffrey Zylstra, Managing Director with Stifel states the, "Portage Public Schools' Bonds were very well received by the bond market.  We were able to take advantage of current low interest rates that met the goals of the District and provided a lower cost of borrowing than originally anticipated.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

PPS Bonds Available to Buy Locally

Local investors have the opportunity to buy bonds to support Building the Future of Learning.  Bonds will be available to individual buyers on May 3rd only in $5000 increments. Call the numbers below in advance of May 3rd for more information. For information about Portage Public School's S & P Bond Rating click here for the report.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Community Information Forum Scheduled for April 19th

Learn more about PPS's $144 million bond projects. Join us for a community gathering next Tuesday. District Administrators and Project Architects will be on hand to guide you through the planning process so far, how the project will move forward over the next several months, and the estimated timeline for construction. This is your opportunity to see first-hand about how the district is engaging users and the community in the planning process. What will the future of learning will look like at PPS? Join us to find out. We look forward to seeing you.
Tuesday April 19th
6:30 to 8:30 pm
Portage West Middle School

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Refined Campus Development DRAFT Plans and Construction Timeline Estimates

Over the past several weeks, the development of the Northern and Central campuses has been further refined with the help from a series of meetings and planning sessions.  The updated plans were presented to the School Board on Monday March 28th.

While these layouts remain conceptual they will continue to drive the design phase of the projects through the remainder of 2016, including schematic and design development for:
  • New middle schools
  • New stadiums
  • New pool facilities
  • Site improvements

A timeline and sequence of the construction is now taking shape, based on a number inter-dependent considerations. The sequence considers a logical path to complete the master plans and other improvements, allows for the maintenance and support of daily operations, and meets the funding timeline of the bond sales. Other considerations include:
  • Safety and site accessibility 
  • Educational continuity
  • Athletics and co-curricular programming impact
  • Consideration of logical and efficient design and construction sequencing
  • Operational capabilities
    • Facility operations and logistics support
    • Shutdown and startup transition (equipment, technology, etc.)
      Program Sequence and Timeline Anticipated Start and Completion
•PNHS stadium / athletics              Spring 2017 thru summer 2018
•New North Middle School            Spring 2017 thru summer 2019
•New pool @ Central campus        Spring 2017 thru winter 2018
•New Central Middle School          Spring 2018 thru summer 2020
•PCHS stadium / athletics               Spring 2018 thru summer 2019
•PCEC/CK improvements              Spring 2019 thru fall 2019
•West Middle School Renovate      Spring 2019 thru summer 2020
•New pool @ Northern campus      Summer 2019 thru winter 2020

Program Sequence and Timeline Buses and Technology
Buses will be acquired in phases over five years
•Began this past January (next purchase summer of 2017)
Technology will be acquired in phases over five years
•Supporting ongoing instruction(1 to 1)
•Other tech elements installed as new facilities come on line

A community forum is being planned for late April, date to be announced.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

User Group Meetings Help Continue to Shape Plans

User group meetings are underway this week on the 2015 Bond Building Projects.  Several sessions are being held to get input from a variety of  groups from across the district. Representatives from program areas included in the new construction projects are offering critical information to the project designers.
Academics and Curriculum
Media Center
Fine Arts
Food Service
STEAM  (Science, Technology Engineering Arts and Math)
Sports and Band
Booster Groups


Track and Field

                                                       Boosters and Concessions

The information gathered will be used by the architects and engineers as they develop specific schematic designs and project sequencing over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Advisory Groups Help Refine Campus Plans

Advisory Groups have been meeting over the last couple of weeks to offer insight and feedback on the preliminary master plans. At the March 14th meeting, the School Board was updated on that feedback and how community input is helping to shape the plans as they become more refined.

The designers are moving in the direction of a 3 story middle school concept to provide a compact footprint driven by the academic programs. Both Central and North Middle Schools will use the same prototype in order to save on design and construction costs but will allow for unique features of each campus.  Each building will be located on the campus in a way that will allow for future expansion.  Bob McGraw, Project Director from c2ae shared an updated vision on where the new buildings and facilities may be located based on additional site research and input from Advisory Committee Members.

Updated Northern Campus:

Updated Central Campus:

Advisory Groups for the athletic facilities and pools have also met, with more meetings scheduled in the next couple of week. Those groups are providing input on facility size, location and design features and will continue to refine those elements in upcoming meetings.

The next steps will include:
Additional Steering Committee and Advisory Group Design Sessions.
Project Sequence and Schedule- what will get build in which order?
Schematic Design of each Facility

Click here to see the entire slide show presented by c2ae at the March 14th School Board Meeting.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

School Board Approves Campus Master Plans

On Monday, February 29th the School Board approved the campus master plans for the new middle schools, pools and athletic event facilities. The plans were the result of work between the project architects c2ae/Stantec, the district's steering committee and advisory groups to arrive at construction zones for the new facilities.  These groups worked closely together to develop the preferred plans from a number of options developed for each site. Now that the master plan is approved, design work can begin. The architects, steering committee members and advisory groups will be narrowing down more specific site locations and facility designs based on site surveys, construction requirements, topography, set back requirements from the City of Portage and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) as well as other architectural and engineering considerations.
North Campus Proposal

Central Campus Proposal

The next steps include:

  • Meeting with Steering Committee and Advisory Groups for design charettes
  • Creating a schematic design of each facility
  • Developing a project sequence
Click here to see the complete Power Point Presentation presented by C2ae/Stantec.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Welcome to the Building the Future of Learning Blog!

The purpose of this blog is to provide the community with up-to-date information on the construction  projects that are the result of the $144 million building project proposal approved by voters in November 2015. The projects include:
  • Rebuilding Portage North and Portage Central Middle Schools
  • Updating Portage West Middle School
  • Building athletic facilities and pools at Portage Northern and Portage Central High Schools
  • Updating technology to include 1:1 computing in all PPS schools
  • Replacing aging school buses
You are invited to follow the progress by clicking the "Building the Future of Learning" logo on our website at  or by subscribing to email updates on the right hand side of the blog page.
It is anticipated that projects of this size and scope will take several years to complete, however much work has already been started in the few short months since the bond proposal was approved. Today's entry will bring you up-to-date.

Here is what has been happening:

After a series of requests for proposals, interviews, reference checks and presentations the Board of Education has approved architecture, construction management and owner's representative firms.
  • Construction management services provided by: Owen Ames Kimball
  • The owner's representative firm acts as a liaison between the District and the architects and construction management firm to offer expertise and day to day support during construction. The firm selected for this role is Walbridge.
These firms are now working closely with the District Bond Implementation Steering Committee, and Advisory Groups of principals, boosters and community representatives to develop a Campus Master Plan which will be presented at a special Board of Education Meeting on February 29th at 2pm at the Administration Building.