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One Good Thing: Construction begins on new Tri County elementary building

When complete in 2023, the new building will consolidate the district onto one campus.

HOWARD CITY, Mich. — Time for One Good Thing -- someone or something that makes West Michigan a good place to live. If you happen to see construction along northbound U-S 131 near Howard City, it's the new Tri County Elementary Building.

That had the groundbreaking a few weeks ago and things are now well underway. The K-5 facility is a part of a $37 million bond passed by voters two years ago. It's being built near the existing high school and middle school... and combining two existing elementary schools. so this will centralize the district - putting all students on the same campus. 

Superintendent Al Cumings says, "So imagine, in a district like Tri County where 130 square miles, we have double bus runs, we're basically running a bus almost to Atlanta, Georgia, and back almost on a daily basis. Okay, that's long bus rides for students. Well now consolidating and putting that that campus in the center of our district will definitely reduce the bus ride time for students, improving transportation, improving operations."

That bond will also pay for an addition to the high school which will double as a performance space and cafeteria, modern science labs, district-wide technology, upgraded bathrooms, classroom improvements, and general safety enhancements.

One Good Thing to Tri County Area Schools on their new elementary school, which should be complete and ready for students by Fall of 2023.

If you have a One Good Thing you'd like to submit - someone or something that makes West Michigan a good place to live - email me with your photos and-or video at OneGoodThing@13OnYourSide.com.

The entire interview with Superintendent Cumings is below:

Nick LaFave  

How much of the difference I saw the bit in the release, you said that it's going to consolidate the whole district. how beneficial that included is this new new building going to be free?

Al Cumings  

Yeah, that's big for us. Because one of the big things that our parents were looking for, were improvements with transportation as we looked at the bond. And that's how we came to this central campus concept. So imagine, in a district like Tri County where 130 square miles, we have double bus runs, we're basically running a bus almost to Atlanta, Georgia, and back almost on a daily basis. Okay, that's long bus rides for students. Well now consolidating and putting that that campus in the center of our district will definitely reduce the bus ride time for students, improving transportation, improving operations. The other big thing is being on a central campus is that it helps us align our curriculum and instruction a little bit better. Also, letting some of our you know, our upper level fourth, even maybe an especially fifth graders, maybe we take some middle school classes, for those advanced kids, maybe go to the Middle School, which is just a walk away now, to just, you know, walk to the next building, you can take some advanced classes up there and really provide more opportunity educationally for our students was.

Nick LaFave  

I mean, in the release, there was a note you sent us about thanking parents for to be perfectly frank passing this thing, because we're in a day and age when villages are a coin toss. How much appreciation is there on behalf of not just the administrators, but I'm sure the teachers are loving this too.

Al Cumings 

Yeah, I think, you know, staff, fully our staff are I mean, from from your, you know, your your support staff, even who some of those support staff, especially the ones that are having to travel between our buildings, which are almost 10 miles apart. Yeah. As well as you as well as your teaching staff. So consolidating that, lets lets us as a community to do it. Exactly. We said, That's coming up. And that's what we want to do. And we're coming together for kids. And so it's a huge thank you to our community, as you just stated, you know, you know, passing a bond in the school districts a real positive not only for the district, but for the surrounding communities empowered city, Pearson, sand Lake, and so for all of us will see this come together and have our kids in the same school district on the same campus, you know, high schools, being able to come to our elementary do peer to peer work, just as a benefit for everybody. And so I think we're going to improve our educational outcomes, like I stated, and just overall, you know, opportunity for kids, you know, think a homecoming week, you were volunteering entire campus is celebrating it, you know, on a central campus. And I think that those are unique opportunities that we have for this. So for our community to pass, this was a was a big deal. I mean, we have Howard city and sand lake and I understand that those are two unique communities, but now for them to say, hey, let's come together as for our students make Tri County, you know, on a central campus, that's a challenge but it's also they saw the opportunity for us so just a huge thank you to our community and supporting this and supporting our Board of Education in the process.

Nick LaFave  

One other question? I know from experience just covering these that when you're building new buildings, you have the opportunity to sell the old one and and make some profit there. Have you decided what's going to happen yet with the current individually old building?

Al Cumings 

We have interest in the old buildings, I have to be careful and sharing what it is because those entities you know are have asked me to stay private, but we do have a one entity interest in sand Lake Elementary, I can share that that that one is been for more senior living possibility. The Edgerton building in in Howard city, we had some interest, we have high interest in our our main office Educational Service Center. Because the Educational Service Center and our early childhood our virtual program, and our alternative Ed are going to move into McNaughton Elementary, which is located in Howard city. So it's still gonna be a new stuff. We've been fortunate to have people already in contact with us about potential opportunities for the use of our old buildings. you essentially have three buildings coming into one now, by and large on really two buildings. So we have a K two buildings, and we have a three five building, they're going to become one cave, larger cave five buildings.

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