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District says bond projects on time, on budget

Cedar Springs — Despite current challenges in the construction industry, Cedar Springs Public Schools is making progress on the projects covered by a $68 million bond approval in 2020. The district completed work this summer at both Cedar Trails Elementary and Cedar Springs Middle School.

“We’ve been lucky in that bids are coming in on budget or even below budget, and we’ve had some great contractors to work with,” said CSPS Chief Financial Officer Chris LaHaie. “We’re also trying to get supplies early when we can, and storing them until we’re ready for that stage of the project if we have to.”

He said that tactic worked well at Cedar Trails, which received 29 new unit vents over the summer to improve classroom air quality. The district added a bipolar ionization feature to all units, which they were able to purchase in January 2021 when prices were lower. 

As part of the HVAC work at Cedar Trails, the school also installed a new chiller, giving the building air conditioning for the first time. That feature already came in handy during the soaring temperatures of mid-August, LaHaie said. 

At the middle school, workers spent the summer revamping its traffic flow, adding additional drives and parking to alleviate traffic congestion during drop-off and pick-up times. An improved entrance off 16 Mile Road is designed to reduce backups, and there are now three exits out to Northland Drive to help with left turns out of the school. 

The patio and sidewalks at the building’s entrance also were redone to eliminate broken concrete and other trip hazards.

“The goal was to improve safety, on foot or in the car,” LaHaie said. “And it’s been really all that we had hoped for, with no congestion like we’d been seeing in the past. I had a parent say she’s been amazed at how smooth (the pick-up/drop-off process) works now.”

The high school main entrance will be revamped and school offices, left, will move to space previously used as the media center, right

High School is Next 

With those projects complete, the district is ready to move to phase one of construction work at the high school. Workers broke ground in September on what will be an eight-classroom addition to the building, which should be ready to use for the 2022-2023 school year. 

The main entrance will also be reworked and improved for greater visibility and accessibility at the front of the building. Current media center space will become the location of school offices and a new counseling center, and the current school office area will be transformed into a hybrid class space. 

Elsewhere at the high school, the district plans to build a new multipurpose learning area behind the new main entrance, update classroom flooring and the building’s HVAC system and build a new stand-alone greenhouse for its Future Farmers of America program. 

“The flexibility (of the new multipurpose and hybrid spaces) will allow us to grow and change along with the changing trends in education and the needs of different teaching or learning styles,” LaHaie said. “And we’re also glad to be able to enhance our FFA program, which is so important to our community.”

For more on building-by-building improvements and future projects covered by the bond, visit the district’s bond information page.

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Beth Heinen Bell
Beth Heinen Bell is a reporter and copy editor, covering Rockford, Lowell, Grandville and Cedar Springs. She is an award-winning journalist who got her start as the education reporter for the Grand Haven Tribune. A Calvin University graduate, she later returned to her alma mater to help manage its national writing festival and edit and write for enrollment communications. Beth has also written for The Grand Rapids Press, Fox 17 and several West Michigan businesses and nonprofits. She is fascinated by the nuances of language, loves to travel and has strong feelings about the Oxford comma. Read Beth's full bio

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