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Bridgeport schools hoping to expand campus as enrollment grows

BRIDGEPORT –­ With enrollment figures on the rise, officials in the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District are looking to accommodate the growth. Superintendent Brent Ripley said the district has experienced a growth of nearly 40 students since the 2020-21 school year.

“We are up to 809 students in pre-K through 12th grade,” Ripley said. “We are looking for a creative way to expand here at Bridgeport so we may continue to bring additional students into our family.”

The increase in enrollment numbers is nice, but at the same time, there are some classes that are at their capacity.

Ripley said there are still many aspects of the proposed project that are still in the planning stages, such as where the expansion will occur.

“We are looking at two sites. We want it to be somewhere adjacent to our current building so that the students don’t have to go out in the elements between classes,” he pointed out.

He said they also have to plan around the continued education of students.

“We don’t want to interrupt any of our students’ schedules … family schedules, drop-offs and pickups. We are trying to plan it all out and coordinate it smoothly,” he stressed.

“We are putting out a request for qualifications for a potential architect for this expansion we are looking to add to the school campus,” district Treasurer Eric Meininger said. “We have received some ESSER funds. If we are to move forward with this project, the contractors would be fully paid through ESSER funds. Meininger explained that ESSER money is federal dollars (COVID dollars) that is to be used for various reasons. One of those reasons is to space kids out. The main reasons are prevent, prepare and respond to COVID.”

Ripley said the size of the expansion is still in question.

“We have a budget to go by. Our current plan is not to delve into any general funds,” he said. “We want to use that ESSER money. That’s what it was intended for. We will build what we can afford, and we have some initial ideas.”

Meininger said the RFQ is good for two weeks. Oct. 6 is the deadline to submit the RFQ, Meininger noted.

This will be the fourth expansion of the campus, located along National Road between Brookside and Lansing. Previous work has included the preschool addition, the administration office and the exercise science center. The current building was constructed in 2006.

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