FRUITPORT TWP. — While students have been out of school for summer break, construction crews have remained at work.
Fruitport High School staff and students will begin the 2019-20 school year in the current building, and they will move into the new two-story building when they return from winter break in January 2020. As of last week, the project remains on schedule and on budget, according to Superintendent Bob Szymoniak.
As crews have worked on the new building, they’ve also spent time renovating the pod of classrooms that were added in 1998. Those classrooms are expected to be ready for students to use this fall.
A new addition to the construction plans includes sidewalks leading from Edgewood Elementary School to the new bus loop behind the high school.
Instead of loading buses in the front of the elementary school, buses will load behind on the loop. That change will be effective in the coming months and parents will be notified.
High school transportation traffic will use the bus loop at a later date.
Classrooms are taking shape as cabinetry, projectors, clocks and furniture are being added. The new kitchen and cafeteria is coming together as equipment is added, including a brick oven, and areas for different food stations. Szymoniak said they’re working to modernize their food service options.
The cafeteria will house 400 to 500 students, and it will feature different types of seating to be more appealing to students. The space is larger than the current cafeteria.
The school store will also be adjacent to the cafeteria, while the current store is located down a hallway.
The new building won’t initially be air conditioned, with the exception of areas such as the office, auditorium, and library and rooms. Given building codes, the number of times the air is exchanged in building with the systems, there should be enough airflow, according to Szymoniak.
Down the road, air conditioning could be added, but it’s currently an extra expense, Szymoniak said.
While construction is ongoing, Szymoniak said they’ve informed parents parking at the high school campus will be a challenge, and they asked for everyone to be patient.
In the coming months, the district will hold an event for the community to tour the space. A date will be announced at a later date.
The district held a similar event in May, which Szymoniak said was well-received in the community. Szymoniak said they’re also open to providing individual tours to interested individuals.
Once staff and students are moved in, demolition will start on the current building. That space will be turned into parking, the office and library.
Construction on the two-story structure officially started in March 2018.
The project is slated to cost about $48 million, and the overall bond is for $52 million. All bond-related work is slated to be wrapped up by 2021.
Although Szymoniak has been involved in several bond campaigns in his career, he said the current project has been the best given the leadership involved and everyone working well together.
Watching the project unfold, Szymoniak said it makes him happy for the students in the community because the community’s approval for the project is a statement to how the it feels about the children, education, and having a safer and more energy efficient environment.