Red Cedar Elementary ready to break ground

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Spring is bringing a lot of activity to Red Cedar Elementary. School construction is underway.

After a $93.77 million bond millage was passed last May, the construction of Red Cedar Elementary has begun with a groundbreaking ceremony expected soon.

At the Feb 12 meeting, the school board awarded a bid of $273,300 to Midwest Wall Company, LLC. The board also passed a motion to authorize Clark Construction reimbursable general conditions not to exceed $162,600 for the renovation project.

So why is Red Cedar Elementary the first to be done?

Board Trustee Nell Kuhnmuench said Red Cedar was chosen for the earliest construction because it is only being remodeled, not rebuilt. The other schools are being rebuilt and the children will need a place to learn during construction on those schools.

According to Trustee Nichole Martin, Red Cedar has, “the best physical structure of any of the existing elementary schools.”

Martin said Donley and Glencairn Elementaries will be renovated next. Donley was chosen second because it sits on enough land to allow students to attend during the construction. Martin said each school will hold 290 students, which is smaller than current capacity.

Next fall, Glencairn students and staff will be placed in the Red Cedar building while their school is being rebuilt.

Trustee Terah Chambers said she is excited about what the new schools will bring to the community.

Chambers said walking into the schools was shocking, as they looked old and in need of help.

“It really wasn’t fair because the quality of education is so phenomenal. We have extraordinary teachers and really great and diverse body of students, and that’s not a combination you see in very many places,” Chambers said.

Chambers said the renovations and remodeling make a statement on what East Lansing values, and she said she hopes it will attract people to move here instead of surrounding districts.

“I think that we have a lot to offer over neighboring districts … we have smaller and more neighbor-oriented schools, and we have for many people walkable schools, and that’s not something you can get in the surrounding communities,” Chambers said.

Kuhnmuench said the ultimate intent is for Red Cedar to be used for childhood education, with as many as seven elementary classrooms, and is “not intended to be an elementary school building like the others.”

Martin said Red Cedar might include pre-school, early education, tuition based education or Head Start based learning.

“Bringing Red Cedar back as a fully functioning part of a community, in any fashion, will provide a continued effort to nurture all children, educate all students and build world citizens,” Martin said.

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