Belding schools to close Administration Building

Posted by Cory Smith • Last Updated 1:48 pm on Wednesday, November 16 2011

Construction on the new high school auditorium is progressing on schedule.

BELDING ­— More than $1 million that had been slated for upgrades at the Belding Area Schools Administration Building are being redistributed to other buildings.
The Administration Building  (previously known as Orchard Hills Elementary School) will not see heating and ventilation upgrades that had been planned. The building will close in two years to save construction and operational costs.
However, the district plans to keep the building to accommodate future growth.
“The decision makes a lot of sense,” Superintendent Leslie Mount said.
The Administration Building currently houses the superintendent, director of curriculum and technology, business office, technology department, special education director and early childhood education programs. Mount said closing it will shift funding to buildings that serve more students every day.
“Originally, four years ago, plans were made to upgrade this building and keep it in use, but things have changed,” she said. “The upgrades would have actually made the building more expensive to operate. And looking ahead a few years from now it seemed irresponsible to spend money on those upgrades.”
Preschool programs will move to Ellis Elementary School, where a space will be configured specially for younger children. The building’s renovations are scheduled to begin in the spring.
Mount said moving preschool to Ellis Elementary, which currently houses kindergarten through second grade, will create a “seamless transition” into kindergarten. The pupils also will have access to more services and a secure entry.
“This will be beneficial for both students and their parents,” Mount said.
The administrative offices are expected to moved into Belding High School, which is in the middle of a major renovation and expansion.
Belding High School Principal Brett Zuver said he’s excited about the possibility of working side by side with the administrative offices so close.
“I think the move will be great,” Zuver said. “A lot of schools have it that way, where the superintendent and their office staff are right in the high school. It’s one of the higher traffic area buildings in the district, there’s a lot of people in and out and it’s kind of the focal point for the community, so I think it makes great sense.”
Zuver said construction at the high school is going very well will only minor interruptions affecting the students.
“The construction process has  been very good,” he said “There’s been minimal interruptions, just noise and a little bit of traffic flow as far as where students can park and enter and exit the building, but it hasn’t been bad at all.”
The major disruptions will happen during the next school year.
“Next year the front of the building will be completely torn out along with the old auditorium, the administrative office areas, the entryway, the commons area and the cafeteria,” Zuver said.
Zuver said the construction has created quite a buzz within the community and the school.
“It’s very exciting,” he said. “We’re going to have one of the nicest facilities in West Michigan and it’s really a shot in the arm for the citizens of Belding and the community as well. We can’t wait for it to be completed.”

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