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Elementary renovation, high school upgrades identified in facilities assessment

District exploring May 7 bond proposal

Lowell — The district is exploring a potential May 7 bond proposal that would fund a major renovation of Cherry Creek Elementary School and extensive upgrades to Lowell High School.

At Cherry Creek, a $28.8 million renovation would open up space to create common areas, collaborative spaces and new classrooms that would allow for natural daylight.

“Our students deserve a great learning environment,” said Cherry Creek Principal Craig Veldman during a recent community forum where district leaders presented facility needs. “We are excited to bring these plans to the community and get the word out for what we are wanting to do.”

The building was designed originally as a middle school in the early 1970s.

“We’ve been running an elementary program out of that middle school space for the last 30 years,” said Superintendent Nate Fowler. “We really want to bring an elementary school feel to the school.”

The Lowell High School building, which is 30 years old, could also receive about $28.9 million in renovations, including work to the band, orchestra and choir rooms; creating a separate orchestra room; mechanical and electrical replacements, upgraded security; new exterior doors and other upgrades.

The district is considering renovating Cherry Creek Elementary School

The district has hosted two community forums – with plans for a third at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, at Lowell Middle School — to gather input on a recent facilities assessment that identifies areas of need in buildings district-wide.

The plan is for the Board of Education to consider moving forward with a bond proposal — the final amount has not yet been determined — at its Nov. 13 meeting. The bond is not expected to result in an increase to taxpayers, and would hold the district’s current debt levy at 7 mills, Fowler said.

While the Cherry Creek project would be designed to reconfigure the space to fit the needs of second- through fifth- graders, the renovation at Lowell Middle School, funded by the 2019 bond, provides an example of open and collaborative spaces, Fowler said.

“It’s a great opportunity to see the impact good design can have on students’ learning,” he said. “I think we have an opportunity to make a great environment for student learning (at Cherry Creek) as well.”

Other Projects Planned 

According to the assessment, renovations and improvements are also planned at Alto Elementary ($6.5 million), Bushnell Elementary ($6.7 million); Murray Lake Elementary ($1.4 million); Unity High School, the Administration Building and the Toddlers on Track for School preschool program ($5.6 million); and at the Wittenbach/Wege Center ($129,000).

About $1 million of renovation is also planned for the transportation department.

Cherry Creek Elementary was designed as a middle school in the 1970s

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. 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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