Pierce Lake Elementary School is at 275 N. Freer Road. photo by Lonnie Huhman

To meet the increasing demand for early childhood education in the community, the Chelsea School District plans on repurposing Pierce Lake Elementary.

In an announcement on April 12, CSD Superintendent Michael Kapolka said “We are thrilled to share an update on our district’s plan to reopen Pierce Lake Elementary as our Early Childhood Center for Fall 2024.”

Over the past year, CSD has been taking a new look at reopening Pierce Lake.

Phase One of this project involved updating the building’s infrastructure to meet current standards, which has been successfully completed, Kapolka said.

This includes installing playground equipment like a see-saw and climbing structure, as well as creating a designated sandbox area. He said additional technological upgrades, such as classroom technology, a new phone and paging system, security cameras, digital keypads, high-speed internet, and secure wifi, are nearly finished. The final touches, including a door intercom security system, are set to be completed shortly.

In terms of safety measures, Kapolka said, “we’ve implemented new plumbing with a bottle-filling drinking fountain, upgraded fire-life safety devices like smoke detectors and audio-visual systems, installed fire doors with self-closing hinges, and enhanced security features including PA speakers and an Aiphone intercom system at front and rear doors.”

He said, “These improvements are in the final stages of testing and programming.”

Opened in 1997, Pierce Lake was originally a building for kindergarten through fifth-grade, and then over time it transitioned into a school for third and fourth graders. It closed in 2010, as the school district was wrestling with budget challenges paired with a period of declining student enrollment.

“Our decision to repurpose Pierce Lake Elementary into an Early Childhood Center reflects our district’s proactive approach to meet the increasing demand for early childhood education in our community,” Kapolka said. “With our current early childhood site at the WSEC (Washington Street Education Center) campus operating at full capacity, relocating to Pierce Lake Elementary will not only allow us to accommodate more students but also provide additional space for preschool classrooms.”

He said this move gains “significance in light of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement of PreK for All in January 2023, aiming to offer free PreKindergarten (PreK) to every four-year-old in Michigan by 2027.”

“The potential implementation of PreK for All highlights the importance of expanding our district’s PreK capacity, aligning perfectly with our district’s priority to reopen Pierce Lake Elementary as an Early Childhood Center,” said Kapolka.

A recent look at the school. photo by Lonnie Huhman

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