Bond projects moving along at Berrien Springs schools

BERRIEN SPRINGS  — Plans for the $19.73 million bond issue projects at Berrien Springs schools are moving along.

Architect and consultant Tony Leininger updated Berrien Spring board members Thursday night on the new Performing Arts Center and Indoor Athletic Center projects to start next spring. He reported that it is in the schematic design phase, after a series of workshops held in February and March to get staff and public input.

Leininger said the district is working with a number of contractors as well as focus groups to better flesh out what the new Performing Arts Center and Indoor Athletic Center will look like. The two facilities will be built onto the current high school with ground set to be broken next spring and work to be done by the end of 2021.

As currently envisioned, the indoor athletic center will be built closest to the high school, while the performing arts center complete with a 750 seat auditorium.

“We had a simple concept and now we’re delving in and developing what they will look like from within,” he said.

Leininger also updated the board on the district’s campus master plan which includes constructing “Shamrock Drive” as a new road looping around the back end of the campus. That road could eventually connect to Shawnee Road.

In other business, four students reported on their recent trip to California where the Berrien Springs High School financial analyst team came in third in the country. They said thousands of students from 20 states, Puerto Rico and Haiti participated in the conference.

Sylvester Principal Chelsea Pollyea, Mars Principal Dee Voss and Elementary Assistant Principal Melissa Prestine spoke on positive behavioral intervention efforts. They noted that only a handful of students at both schools make up nearly half of the referrals for behavior problems.

They said both schools have seen improvement when it comes to behavioral problems over the school year and expect to see even more next year. Both schools will implement the Michigan Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative program starting in the fall.

“Students are more likely to succeed when schools address behavior and learning together,” Prestine said.

Board members had a preliminary discussion about the 2019-20 budget at the end of the meeting. Administrators are putting the final touches on the new budget and will bring it to the board’s finance committee in early June. The board will then have an all-day retreat concluding with a budget hearing and adoption on June 20.