By Kate Kerbrat
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
The East Lansing School Board voted to move forward with the MacDonald Middle School project Sept. 23. The $8 million project is planned to add a new sixth grade wing to the middle school by August 2014.
The motion was made just after the board approved the 2012-2013 audited financial statement. The school district was found to have had a profit for the previous fiscal year. Superintendent Clifford Seybert said he was pleased with the financial report.
“It puts us in a great position, financially, as compared to some of the other districts in the state of Michigan,” said Seybert. “We are in the black, we’re not laying people off, we’re not impacting classrooms significantly through that process.”
Seybert said that he was not concerned with how construction would affect the district’s budget. The money, he said, is going to come from a sinking fund, which is used for construction. He said there is money in the fund to build the wing, which is why the board was able to approve construction.
Two board members opposed building the wing.
Board Members Nell Kuhnmuench and Kath Edsall said during the meeting that spending $8 million seemed irresponsible at this time. Kuhnmuench also said that reconfiguring students needed to be further discussed.
“We’re taking our sinking fund and using that to create a six-eight school, instead of using it to do some necessary updating to our current elementary schools. Our middle school was updated not that long ago,” said Kuhnmuench.
The school board voted last March to move sixth graders to the middle school for the 2014-2015 school year. MacDonald currently houses seventh and eighth graders.
Vice President Kay Biddle and Secretary Babette Krause supported the project.
“I’ve been in support of this project, I’ve been on the committee that’s been looking at
the design development and the budget, so I’m firmly in support of it,” said Krause.
Clark Construction of Lansing will manage the project and will oversee the subcontractors working on the school. The school board awarded 15 bids Monday night, with two more being processed.
Edward Lorenz, project manager from Clark Construction, said at the meeting that he took the safety of the students at MacDonald very seriously. Each of his workers will be screened before being allowed to work on school grounds and construction will work around bus drop-off and pick-up.
Seybert said that the project should begin by Oct. 1. There will be a groundbreaking ceremony before any building begins.
“They’ll be doing a lot of work to break ground on the new wing before winter comes, so that they can get that closed and do interior work prior to the snowfall,” said Seybert.