LAKEVIEW — It has been more than two years in coming, but on Wednesday, all the hard work, planning and expense paid off for Lakeview Community Schools when Superintendent Kyle Hamlin cut the ribbon officially opening the doors to Lakeview Elementary School. Assisting in the task were Board of Education President Ed Jonaitis and Principal Kelly Nielsen.
The event was well-attended by community members, teachers, administrators and parents with children who will soon be entering the school for fall classes.
The completely renovated school, formerly Bright Start Elementary, replaces the old elementary school, scheduled for demolition. The work carried out there and at other schools in the system is part of a millage package approved by voters in early 2013.
The work included secure entryways, building site work, expanded parking and an upgraded playground. Nine classrooms and new restrooms also were added, along with many other improvements to infrastructure and technology.
Jonaitis noted the project actually came in under budget. The 7 mills approved by voters wound up being 6.4 mills once all work was completed.
“Your millage has actually dropped,” said Jonaitis at Wednesday’s ceremony. “So that’s a good thing. So most importantly, I’d like to thank the taxpayers in the district for recognizing the need for our kids to have the best facilities in all of Montcalm County.
“And if you know of any kids who would like to attend Lakeview schools, hey, we’re wide open,” he added. “I think we all should be proud.”
Hamlin also addressed the gathering prior to the actual cutting of the ribbon. First, he noted the presence of other board members in attendance and thanked them for their work and support throughout the millage and planning process. Hamlin also praised the steering committee and bond committee members who helped draft the original millage proposal.
“They’re the ones who were really behind the push of getting that bond passed,” he said.
Improvements going on elsewhere in the district also were addressed, including work at the middle and high schools.
“There are a lot of things going on as you travel through the district,” Hamlin said. “We’re hoping to have everything put back together come Sept. 2. The gym floor’s still being put down and there are cables hanging from the ceiling, so we’re scrambling.”
Work at Lakeview Middle School included outdoor play areas and playground equipment, security upgrades and many infrastructure upgrades. Roof replacement and improvements to the gym and cafeteria took place, along with technology upgrades and other improvements.
Likewise, Lakeview High School received resurfaced parking areas and upgrades to the science department, along with several infrastructure improvements. Some doors were replaced and many technology upgrades were implemented.
Other school needs addressed with millage funds were new school buses, improvements to the bus garage and new furniture throughout the school system.
“Take a moment to travel the county and the neighboring counties,” Hamlin said. “We’re definitely a gem compared to a lot of the districts across the state.”
Hamlin also commented on several projects still in the works, including the closing of Fifth and Sherman streets, which border the middle school, to make the area safer for students. In addition, plans call for the old elementary school to be demolished within the next two months.
“There will be changes coming,” Hamlin said. “Sometimes change is good. In this case we’re very excited about how Lakeview is going to look and what it’s going to provide for the students who are here and the ones who will come here in the future.
“I thank all of you; all the voters who took the time to go and vote and approve the bond, to allow this moment to happen today. Welcome to the new Lakeview Elementary.”