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Eighth graders to take classes at TRHS for two years due to Middle School renovations

Chris Mankowski (left) and Doug Phillips (right) from Plante Moran Cresa give an update on Three Rivers Community Schools’ bond project during Monday’s TRCS Board of Education meeting.

By Robert Tomlinson
News Director

THREE RIVERS — Eighth grade students at Three Rivers Middle School will be taking classes at Three Rivers High School for two years beginning in the 2023-24 school year, due to a highly-anticipated $17.7 million renovation to the middle school that will take place over the next two years.
In a presentation laid out by Plante Moran Cresa during Monday night’s Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education meeting, which also covered several other updates on the district’s bond project, the school district’s owner representative said the upcoming renovation project at Three Rivers Middle School will commence in June with the first of several phases of work on all facets of the building.
The first phase of the multi-phase middle school project will focus on the southwestern-most part of the building, renovating and rearranging the layout of classrooms in the area. That work is expected to take all the way until March 2024 to complete, and because of the displaced classrooms in this and other phases of the project, which will take until December 2024 to complete, Superintendent Nikki Nash announced that all eighth-grade students in the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years will take their middle school classes at Three Rivers High School.
“We’ve been carefully planning that; Jason [Bingaman, middle school principal]’s working on talking with the staff right now for that piece of it, and then once he’s talked with staff, we plan to send a letter to all of the middle school and fifth grade so they know what the middle school looks like, then we’ll send the whole community an update,” Nash said. “I know it says December 2024 [is when construction will end], but you never know. So instead of moving them in the middle of the year or whatever, we’re planning two straight years.”
With the plan, Nash said nine classrooms at Three Rivers High School will be provided for the eighth-grade students, and elective courses will share the gym, band, choir and art areas.
Nash initially said during the meeting students in eighth grade would be at the high school for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years, however she clarified in an email Tuesday that it would be the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years.
Concurrently, between June and August of this year, the school’s gym will be renovated.
In the next phase of the middle school project, renovations and rearranging on the southeastern-most academic area and secure upgrades to the front entryway will occur between April 2024 and August 2024, which will also involve the creation of a new front office area that will be ready by the start of the 2024-25 school year. Renovations and rearranging of the school’s library-area classrooms and the cafeteria/auditorium/band room area will take place from June 2024 to August 2024.
The project will be capped off between June 2024 and December 2024, when the current front office area will be completely renovated and rearranged. As part of that time period, between September 2024 and December 2024, rearranging and renovation of the northeastern-most classrooms will occur.
Plante Moran Cresa Senior Consultant Chris Mankowski said the middle school project will involve a lot of moving pieces, likening it to a puzzle of sorts, especially with classes still going on while the bulk of the construction is taking place.
“We’ll just phase through the building like a puzzle, making sure that kids are still able to be taught and school is operational, and we’re providing a safe environment,” Mankowski said.
Because of the first part of the project taking place with the classrooms closest to the student drop-off area, there will be some slight adjustments when it comes to traffic at the front of the building. Contractors will have fencing just in front of where some of the parking spaces are now, with a laydown area in a grassy area southwest of the school. Temporary traffic markings will be placed around the fencing so the drop-off lanes are clearly marked.
“We’ll make sure the drive is clearly identified and people have a clear path to travel to make it as safe as possible,” Mankowski said.
Mankowski said $17.7 million has been budgeted for the middle school renovations and additions, with $13.9 million budgeted for construction, and all bids have been officially submitted as of Tuesday. He said he is optimistic for the bidding results.
“We’re hoping for good results with pretty good participation and multiple bidders for each category,” Mankowski said.
Either way, Nash said, there is a “light at the end of the tunnel” with the middle school, which was originally supposed to receive an entirely new academic wing, but was scaled down to renovations and rearrangements of the current academic wing.
“It’s been a year of planning, but it’s good and we’re very excited about it,” Nash said.
Plante Moran’s presentation also focused on the district’s new $6 million transportation building, to be located on a property the district owns on Haines Road just north of Sixth Avenue. That project is scheduled to start this June and go until March 2024, and features a 10,150 square-foot building with offices and three maintenance bays for buses.
As for the upcoming project to renovate the Armstrong Field football stadium, Mankowski said the plan is currently in the design phase with construction scheduled to begin in spring of 2024. Approximately $6.28 million is budgeted for this project.
Finally, Mankowski gave updates on the work scheduled for the high school’s music classrooms, saying the design is currently seeking feedback from different user groups, with a workshop held on Jan. 19 to begin development. The music classroom project has a budget of $4.45 million.
All of the work being done with the middle school, transportation building, football field and music classrooms is being done as part of the second phase of the district’s three-phase bond initiative, funding for which was approved by voters back in 2019.
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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Chris Mankowski (left) and Doug Phillips (right) from Plante Moran Cresa give an update on Three Rivers Community Schools’ bond project during Monday’s TRCS Board of Education meeting.

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