Bark River-Harris Schools expansion update

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HARRIS, Mich. (WJMN)- An expansion to Bark River-Harris Schools is currently in the works due to high enrollment numbers.

Hannahville Indian Community granted the schools $3.9 million last year, however, Superintendent Jason Lockwood said the grant wasn’t enough to cover everything needed to further their growth.

“We have been very fortunate to have a positive relationship with the Hannahville Indian Community. They approached us with this amazing opportunity for our school district. We’re just humbled and feel so appreciative of this opportunity,” said Lockwood.

A millage proposal passed on the 2018 ballot to help pay for the interest on the bond for the project. The millage passed with a fifty-four percent in favor of the Bark River-Harris Schools proposal.

The funds from the proposal and the grant from the Hannahville Indian Community are going toward four newly built classrooms, a kitchen/cafeteria, and a bus garage.

Construction began earlier this summer and the basic foundations of the classrooms are already underway, as well as the beginning of the bus garage. The cafeteria is in the process of getting ductwork and adding the heaters.

The expansion process is currently on track. Renovations will progress through the winter season and the projected completion will be by Spring 2020 and be fully operational by next fall.

Internal renovations are also included in the project. Bathrooms will be updated, as well as making the old ala carte room into a computer lab, the weight room moved from the elementary wing into the old band room, and the new band room will be in the place of the old cafeteria.

Although enrollment has been low this year, Bark River-Harris Schools have been witnessing an incline in overall student enrollment in the past ten years. A district fund balance helped to expand the elementary section by four classrooms a few years ago. The four new classrooms for this year’s renovations will be attached to those classrooms and will be pre-school through first-grade.

The increase in enrollment has been a huge positive for the district, including this new expansion project.

“Our kids are going to get a better education, our facilities are going to be much nicer and our needs are going to be taken care of for many, many years. So as the superintendent it’s a relief to know that we’re taken care of,” said Lockwood.

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