TRAVERSE CITY — A Traverse City charter school is expanding operations through construction of a $1.1 million facility.
Building crews broke ground on the new Greenspire School building this summer. School board members said construction should wrap sometime this fall.
Greenspire School Board President Kurt Sanford said the project should create space for up to 120 middle school students. Last year the school served about 60 students.
“This is going to be a program that, as it takes off, Traverse City will be very proud of,” said Sanford, a local physician.
Greenspire is partnered with Traverse City Area Public Schools, but the charter offers students a hands-on, environmental project-based education.
Raymond Minervini II, the board’s vice president, said the school is designed to excite pupils about their education, something that can be difficult for students stuck in a row of chairs in a classroom.
“They certainly have a classroom at the Greenspire,” Minervini said. “But there is so much more in hands-on content.”
The building is under construction next to the school’s current location at the Grand Traverse Commons. It will include classroom spaces, administrative offices, a fully equipped-science lab and a locker and storage area where students can clean and store equipment after outdoor projects.
Minervini is a partner at Minervini Group, LLC, the organization largely responsible for redeveloping the former state mental hospital.
He said the school’s expansion helps create a fully realized neighborhood at the Commons.
“Having educational opportunities is fundamental to that,” he said.
School officials financed most of the project’s overall cost, including $200,000 for the land purchase, through Firstbank, of Cadillac.
A $120,000 grant from the downstate Orton Foundation will pay for the new science lab.
The Greenspire School opened as a public charter two years ago. It was a private school before that.
Charter schools are publicly funded but have more curricular and operational flexibility than traditional public school districts.