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Elementary schools start year with completed bond projects

Work funded by $192 million bond passed in 2021

Kentwood —It’s hugs and hellos from Meadowlawn Elementary School staff members as parents drop their children off each morning using a brand-new traffic loop. 

The two-lane, one-way loop allows cars to smoothly drive in, and parents to stop and kiss their children goodbye. It’s similar to an airport dropoff designed for continuous flow of traffic, said Tim Hargis, Kentwood Public Schools director of communication and former Meadowlawn principal. A new bus dropoff area was also added at the back of the school, making for even less congestion and better safety. 

The traffic-flow enhancements are a couple highlights of upgrades at the kindergarten through fifth-grade school that enrolls 372 students.

Other highlights at Meadowlawn include air conditioning and new carpeting school-wide, and two new third-grade classrooms, complete with interactive display boards, large windows and new bathrooms. The classrooms lead to a new exit to the playground, recently furnished with a new basketball court.

“It’s brand new!” said third-grader Ethan Angeles about his classroom.

Third-grade teacher Lindsey Greenfield shared the enthusiasm.“This new space is just beautiful. It’s very big and open. The kids are able to move around and work with their partners. The windows are gorgeous.” 

Playground improvements include a new basketball court

Projects Span District

Meadowlawn’s additions are a small piece of construction projects being funded by the $192 million bond request that passed in May, 2021. The projects, spanning 22 buildings that serve more than 9,000 students, have begun at several other elementary schools as well.

Superintendent Kevin Polston said the work is aligned with the district’s goal to offer a world-class learning environment.

“We are so thankful for the support of our community to ensure that we can continually invest in our learning spaces, both in and out of the classroom, to provide an exceptional learning experience for the students of the Kentwood community,” he said.

Brookwood Elementary’s new full-service kitchen and gymnasium are receiving their final touches; Discovery Elementary also has a revamped lot for bus and parent dropoff and pickup that includes lighted safety signs to help with traffic flow. Hamilton Early Childhood Center has upgraded heating and cooling, which brings air conditioning to all classrooms there – now, all classrooms in the district have air conditioning. And Townline and Glenwood have new electronic exit signs, Hargis said.

A new, 40,000 square-foot Early Childhood Center will be built near Townline Elementary, 100 60th St. SE. Construction is set to begin in November and will be completed by May 2024, Hargis said. Plans are to possibly renovate the existing Hamilton Early Childhood Center into a kindergarten- through fifth-grade elementary school, or to have two Early Childhood Centers, said Todd Bell, executive director of finance and business operations.

Students settle in for a day of learning in their new classroom

Work is slated to begin in October on a new full-service kitchen and gymnasium addition at Bowen Elementary and on a new kitchen at Endeavor Elementary. East Kentwood Freshman Campus received classroom upgrades.  

At East Kentwood High School construction on a Culinary Arts facility, which is part of the larger vision for developing the district’s Career Tech Education offerings, is set to begin in November and be completed a year later, Hargis said.

At Pinewood Middle School, a Fine Arts addition including two new classrooms, science/STEM room and gymnasium renovations are scheduled to begin in the spring. A tech lab as part of Career Tech Ed offerings is also in the design process. 

Still under discussion are plans for a new kindergarten through eighth-grade school for students who opt for a balanced calendar school-year schedule. The district is studying demand for the option, Bell said.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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