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Tag Archive | "School Facility Proposals"

Public asked to give input on school facility proposals


By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs Public Schools is asking the community to give their input on three different proposals to help improve school facilities and accommodate future growth. 

They have posted a survey on their website at csredhawks.org called the “CSPS Facilities Vision Questionnaire” and it will remain open through Monday, May 13.

According to Superintendent Scott Smith, there were two areas they looked at: facility needs and programs—how they were serving students.

The process started in 2016, when the district hired a company (GMB Architecture – Engineering) to do a facilities assessment. They looked at core systems such as roofing, heating/cooling, floor coverings, and plumbing. They also looked at safety and security, energy enhancements, and what site work needed to be done, such as paving and playgrounds.

Smith said that boilers in the various buildings are functioning but are very infefficient. Roofs also need to be replaced. They cannot even get parts anymore for the heaters in the classrooms at Cedar View. Instead, when another school replaces their univent heaters, they send the old ones to our district. 

The roads are also badly in need of repair. “The roads are in trouble,” said Smith. “Like the governor said, ‘it’s time to fix the darn roads.’ We’ve been doing projects with money from the sinking fund, but we don’t want to replace roads if we won’t need them in the future. If we refigure how the campus is laid out, we might not need them at all. Or we might need more. We’ve been going slow, but have been very targeted in what we are spending money on,” he explained.

Overall, the facilities assessment showed $42.5 million was needed just in facility repairs—and that’s targeting either what needs to be repaired right now or will need to be repaired/replaced in the near future. And that includes all eight buildings on campus: Cedar Trails (K-1), Beach (2-3), Cedar View (4-5), Red Hawk (6), Middle school (7-8), High school (9-12), and Hilltop (District Office).

They also looked at programs and enrollment. Smith said their projected enrollment is very stable, with a growth of about 1 percent per year (35-45 students per year) over the next five years. The problem is that some of the buildings are already at capacity. Smith said that both Cedar Trails and Beach are at capacity, as is the high school. “In the near future, every room at the high school will be used every hour, with some teachers on carts. The cafeteria and kitchen is also too small to serve our students,” he said. He noted that the middle school is not feeling overcrowded but is full. Cedar View and Red Hawk both have some room. The three options were developed taking this all into consideration.

Under all options—A, B, and C—the preschool program would be moved from Cedar Trails to either Cedar View or Red Hawk. “By moving them out, it gives Cedar Trails room to breathe,” explained Smith, “and provides more space for them to do things like art and other activities.”

And Hilltop—which was built in 1923 to replace the original high school—is not being used for students at all. Which presented a dilemma—do you spend $6.2 million to renovate a building that students no longer use?

“The sad reality is that it needs $6 million in renovation. The windows are single-paned, the boiler is inefficient, and the roof needs to be replaced,” explained Smith. “We have a hard time saying let’s put money into it when it’s not serving students.” So under all the options, Hilltop would be demolished and a green space created. 

Smith understands the important role the 93-year-old building has played in the community. It was built in 1926 as the new high school, after the original Union High School, built in 1871, was razed. And over the years it has served both elementary and secondary students, and currently hosts district office employees.

“If we don’t do anything, it will continue to deteriorate. We have to look ahead at 50 years from now. Will that grassy area be a beautiful spot for a new school? People will drive by it every day. What will they see? It’s easy to think in the short term, but at some point, we will need to let it go,” he said.

Smith noted that while there are currently three options for the board to consider, it’s still early in the process. “We are still considering, still thinking.” He said the board would review all three options Monday evening, May 13, and hear the community feedback from the surveys. It will then be up to the board whether to propose one of the following options for a bond issue or not.

“We are still open to suggestions. We are still exploring our options. We are trying to be strategic and thoughtful while trying to respect and honor our community at the same time,” explained Smith.

The current three options are:

Option A: Cedar Trails (K-1): do roofing and mechanical upgrades. Beach (2-3): do a partial demolition and reconstruct the academic wings. Do minor remodeling, site improvements, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, playground. Cedar View (4-5) Facilities critical needs. Middle School (6-8): Add a 6th grade wing, do critical needs, furnishings, fixtures, equipment. High School (9-12): do critical needs, add 8 classrooms, expand cafeteria, furnishings, fixtures, equipment. Red Hawk (District Administration, preschool, Cherry Health, Community education): critical needs, heavy remodeling of existing building, fixtures, furnishings and equipment. Hilltop: Demolition and site restoration. Cost: $78.9 million. 1.07 mil increase.

Option B: Cedar Trails, Beach, High school and Hilltop: the same as option A. Cedar View would become home to District office, preschool, Cherry Health and Community Ed. Do critical  needs, heavy remodeling of existing building, fixtures, furnishing and equipment. Red Hawk (4-6): Critical needs, new classroom wing for additional classrooms, fixtures, furnishings and equipment. Middle School (7-8): Critical needs. Cost: $79.8 million. 1.07 mil increase.

Option C: Cedar Trails, Beach, Cedar View, Red Hawk and Hilltop: same as option A. Middle School (6-7) move sixth graders to middle school. Do critical needs. Build a new 8-9 building (adjacent to high school). Do site improvements, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, auxiliary gym. High school (10-12): Do critical needs, fixtures, furnishings, equipment. Cost: $78.8 million. 1.07 mil increase.

Whatever the outcome, Smith said it’s not just a decision about taxes. “It’s about how our community is represented by the schools, and how our kids are engaged in the learning process.”

Posted in Cedar Springs Public Schools, News, SchoolsComments (2)


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