Aspen Ridge to expand

ISHPEMING – The NICE Community School District will spend an estimated $750,000 to expand the Aspen Ridge School building this spring.

Approved by the school board at its meeting Monday, the expansion will provide an additional 2,350 square feet of learning space with two new classrooms, as well as expanding an existing bathroom and renovating the building’s main office.

Integrated Designs Inc., the school district’s engineering and architectural firm, will begin to solicit bids for the project, with construction slated to begin in March, NICE Superintendent Bryan DeAugustine said.

DeAugustine added the new space has become necessary since the district changed its kindergarten to an “all-day, every day” program and because school enrollment continues to rise.

A total of 863 Aspen Ridge students were enrolled this year – up from 826 in 2009-2010 – an increase of roughly 4.5 percent; and an enrollment projection study done by Lansing-based Middle Cities Education Association predicts the school’s student body will continue to grow by one to two percent each year for the next five years.

The new classrooms will probably be occupied by fifth graders, DeAugustine said, as they will be added to the part of the building where the rest of the fifth grade classes are being taught. Internal restructuring will re-allocate space in the kindergarten section of the school to provide for the influx of new students.

DeAugustine also said they will potentially be looking to hire an additional fifth grade teacher for the 2013-14 school year, with the position advertised via the district’s internal posting process and following union protocols.

In other action, the school board renewed its participation in the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency’s Great Start Readiness program, and filed paperwork with Marquette County listing their inspectors for the annual school inspection.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.