By Andrew Cluley
Over the last two years, since the announcement Ann Arbor Public Schools would offer an International Baccalaureate program at Mitchell Elementary, enrollment in the school has increased by 44 students. With overall enrollment at 317 students this year, and demand for the IB program still strong, the Board of Education has approved a three to five year expansion plan for Mitchell that would bring capacity of the building to over 600 students.
The Board approval includes specifics on adding six classrooms to the school in time for the start of school next fall. This plan $2.187 million dollar first phase will be an addition built to the southeast corner of the school and includes replacing some playground equipment that is currently located where the construction will take place.
The additional classrooms will give Mitchell some room for enrollment growth, and allow the district to offer young five classrooms at the school starting in the fall. The project will be funded by the district’s sinking fund millage.
Trustee Andy Thomas credits Principal Kevin Karr, ongoing partnerships with the University of Michigan, and the IB program for boosting interest in Mitchell Elementary. “This is a school that’s bursting at the seams and is going to be growing, and we’re planning for that growth because people want to go there,” Thomas says.
In addition to approving the overall concept of expanding Mitchell, and the specifics of the first phase, the Board has approved the district seeking requests for proposals for a construction manager for the project.
The second and third phase will add an additional nine classrooms for preschool space, a new preschool parent drop-off area, playground enhancements, and some renovations of existing space. The specific order and timing of these phases will be dependent on enrollment numbers. Superintendent Jeanice Swift expects to bring a recommendation for phase two sometime this fall.
Throughout the project Mitchell staff will be meeting with the School Improvement Committee, PTO, and IB Advisory Group and working to keep families informed about the status of the project on a regular basis.