The Grand Ledge Board of Education voted unanimously to allow Superintendent Bill Barnes to negotiate with Watertown Township on the potential sale of the Wacousta Elementary School building.
Before the school district sells the old building, it will build a new, upgraded Wacousta Elementary.
The new school will be endowed from the league in March 2018.
The district originally planned to demolish the old building, but now hopes to sell it to the Village of Watertown, which plans to convert it into an honors space. A new school will be built adjacent to the current one.
“The opportunity to create a partnership with another local municipality and help them is really exciting,” Barnes said.
The old building was built in the 1970s, so the school district needs to build a new and improved one that is safe for students and teachers.
Nicole Shannon, president of the Board of Education, described the building as unusual and barn-like with no real interior walls. The classrooms are large spaces divided by cupboards and rolling carts.
“We’re hoping that other people in the library or other community groups will also be interested in using some of that space. This way we’re saving money because we don’t have to tear it down and the building gets a second life,” Shannon said.
Denise Dufort, a trustee of the Board of Education, said she wants to see more classrooms with increased security and walls added to the interior of the new school.
“I think it’s better for our students and our teachers to have a little opportunity in their classrooms when they do special activities. Sometimes they need quiet and sometimes they know they’re going to be loud,” said Dufort.
On the site of the new school is a playground called “Dream Depot,” which is a self-founded community, with soccer fields and basketball courts that students use.
“‘[The community] They were very worried that it would be damaged when we put up a new building. So we jokingly said we couldn’t reach the Dream Depot; We will work around this,” Dufort said.
One of the challenges that Grand Ledge Public Schools has experienced and continues to face is how to distribute the schools, since some are located in Eagle, Wacousta and Lansing. The region has always had more money in transportation than other regions.
“I know that there are some regions that are reaching for electric profits, which I find quite attractive. My understanding is that it’s a pretty big investment on the front end, but we’ll see. Everything changes over time,” Dufort said.
The new building is expected to be completed by 2024.
“We’re very lucky to be here. So our community has decided on what’s important and supported us in this, which is very exciting,” said Barnes.