This rendering shows a bird’s-eye view of what the reconstructed DeKeyser Elementary School will look like in Sterling Heights.

This rendering shows a bird’s-eye view of what the reconstructed DeKeyser Elementary School will look like in Sterling Heights.

Image provided by Jennifer Kane

UCS beginning work on projects from its successful 2023 bond proposal

By: Kara Szymanski | C&G Newspapers | Published May 21, 2024


UTICA/STERLING HEIGHTS/SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Utica Community Schools is beginning work using the dollars from the largest bond issue in its history.

Approximately 70% of UCS voters approved the $550 million bond issue on May 2, 2023.

The first phase of the bond issue, which will cost $130 million, is now getting underway at sites throughout Michigan’s second-largest school district. Safety improvements are the top priority and will occur at each school.

Some of the safety improvements include door replacements with metal door frames as needed, upgrades to impact and shatter-resistant glass, heavy duty locksets, corridor entryway enhancements, and the continued implementation of the Nightlock system, which barricades doors.

One of the big pieces of this first phase is the reconstruction project at DeKeyser Elementary in Sterling Heights, which is anticipated to cost approximately $24 million. DeKeyser and other schools with open concept layouts from approximately 50 years ago, which were intended to foster collaboration between students, are being upgraded to address their lack of a full set of walls and doors now considered crucial to a safe learning environment. UCS said that in DeKeyser’s case, it requires a complete rebuild.

Stephen Slancik, Schuchard Elementary School principal, said the school community at Schuchard is looking forward to the changes that will be implemented this summer.

“Safety is always our top priority, and the installation of walls throughout our facility will further increase the level of security for our students and staff,” he said.

DeKeyser’s new design will be a template for use in transforming other elementary schools, according to the district. It will include technology and multiple work areas for instruction in which teachers, paraprofessionals and volunteers can work with individuals and small groups.

The district is also choosing to do highly visible improvements important to many school communities as part of the first phase. These include beginning the parking lot improvements and playground enhancements at select sites. During the second summer of the improvements, people will see changes to athletic facilities to improve safety and increase school pride.

Superintendent Robert S. Monroe said that Utica Community Schools is beginning a transformational set of bond issue projects that will reimagine how its facilities can support student achievement.

“Utica Community Schools is fortunate to have a legacy of excellence that has led us to the important work of this bond issue. The work we are doing today is an investment in the future of our community which will help us empower our students to positively transform their future and the world,” he said.

While the work is being completed, DeKeyser Elementary will be relocated to Rose Kidd Elementary School, a former elementary in Sterling Heights that was closed in 2010. Improvements are being made to refurbish Rose Kidd Elementary to house DeKeyser students and staff until their current building is completed in the fall of 2025.

Projects to be included in phase one are listed by building at