The council unanimously approved plans by that will allow them to consolidate their campuses into one–a consolidation school officials say will help the daily learning environment as well as lower operational costs.
Among the chief concerns for Grosse Pointe Woods officials is the traffic flow on Cook Road–an already congested roadway near both University Liggett and schools. The plan as approved Monday limits entrance and exit capabilities through one of each rather than multiple entrances and exits, said project architect Hank Altman.
During the planning phases of the project, University Liggett officials and Grosse Pointe Woods officials worked closely to resolve the issue. The Grosse Pointe Woods planning commission originally recommended to city council that the project only be approved if a right turn lane were added, according to officials. The resolution to keep the flow of traffic on school grounds in an organized fashion, however, solves the problem the planning commission was trying to address–Cook Road congestion.
Meanwhile, Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety officials are working with Monteith and Grosse Pointe Public Schools officials to alleviate their contribution to the Cook Road traffic congestion, Woods City Manager Al Fincham said.
Approximately 125 students and 25 staff members will be moved from the University Liggett Middle School to the Cook Road campus for the 2012-13 school year. Construction is slated to begin within six months and the project is to be completed within one year from groundbreaking, according to the motion passed by city council Monday.
The current at 850 Briarcliff Drive will remain open with students in the coming school year. The building will be maintained by University Liggett after the transition but the goal ultimately is to sell it, Liggett spokesman Ronald Bernas said.
Liggett officials hope that the sale will cover or nearly cover the cost of the Cook Road renovations, Bernas said, explaining the project has about a $3-million price tag.
"It has been our goal for years," Bernas said. "We are one school. We always really wanted to be one location."
Throughout the years, the school has looked into different options, including submitting bids on the .
In addition to allowing more unity among students, the move of the middle school into the main campus will allow for easier mentoring between different grades, Bernas said. There is a lot of mentoring that goes on now but there is a great deal of planning involved related to time and to busing students from one campus to the other, he said.
Additionally, there are teachers who work at both locations, traveling back and forth throughout their day. Consolidation will allow those teachers to have more time in their workday for tasks other than driving, he said.
Consolidation will also allow the private school to cut costs by reducing some of the inherent operational costs of running two school buildings, such as have two cafeterias and two cafeteria staffs, Bernas said. Lawn care is another example, he said.
There will be a minor addition to the Cook Road site regarding the two gyms. The smaller of the two gyms will be converted into a gathering place for middle schoolers with offices lining the edges to ensure administrators have an eye on the students, Bernas said. It'll be a student commons area, he said.
Once the project is complete and all of the students are at the Cook Road campus, each division of the school will have its own distinct area–lower, middle and high schools, Bernas said.