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Reconfiguration plan for Escanaba schools nearly complete

ESCANABA — Escanaba Area Public Schools’ reconfiguration plan is almost complete. The Learning Center has started moving into the Soo Hill building, a wall is going up in Lemmer Elementary, a wall is coming down in the Escanaba High School, and teachers and materials are in their new facilities.

“Our reconfiguration plans and work is going well,” said Escanaba High School Principal, Darci Griebel. “Sixth-grade teachers and materials have been moved over to their new rooms here at the Junior-Senior High School.”

The stage in Lemmer’s gym/lunchroom has been torn out to provide additional kitchen space, and tiles have been pulled up.

“Construction is underway at Lemmer. So far they (Roy Ness) prepped the room to have a wall put up and a door added and have removed the stage,” said Lemmer Principal Paulette Wickham. “I am looking forward to the changes.”

Escanaba based Roy Ness Contracting and Sales, Inc., is currently making changes required to school buildings after the Escanaba School Board voted to close the Soo Hill Elementary in December 2019. By closing the Soo Hill School, first through third grades moved to different schools in the district. All first and second grade students will be in Lemmer Elementary. Third-grade students are joining fourth and fifth graders in the Upper Elementary, and sixth-grade students will join the seventh and eighth grade students in junior high school starting the 2020-2021 school year.

The Soo Hill building was sold to the Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District (DSISD) earlier this year so the Learning Center could be moved from their previous location, at 2203 7th Ave. S., Escanaba.

“We are currently completing summer cleaning at Soo Hill and hope to finish prepping the building by the end of July,” said DSISD Superintendent Doug Leisenring. “We are moving our furniture and equipment to Soo Hill during the week of Aug. 3 and then our staff will start unpacking.”

The Learning Center needed more room to teach students with moderate to severe impairments who are three to 26 years of age.

“We are just cleaning the building, painting in some areas, and replacing the lockers with larger cubbies that would be more appropriate for our students this summer. The goal is to learn how Soo Hill works for us, and then implement more modifications in future school years,” said Leisenring.

Construction in all buildings will be complete in time for the students’ arrival.

“We should be on track to open on time. Our tentative schedule is to start school for our students on Monday, Aug. 31, pending school board approval,” Leisenring said.

Included in the construction at the high school is previously planned security work in the front entrance.

“We have some minimal construction occurring to enhance classroom space and to install the new electronic locks and cameras on the front entrance of our building to increase safety. All will be ready to start our school year off in preparation for our staff and students,” said Griebel.

Both Lemmer and the Learning Center plan to have an open house at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

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