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Sunset fully occupied with NEMCSA deal

ALPENA — Sunset Elementary School sat vacant for eight years before reopening last year for homeschool students. Now, the building will be fully occupied for the 2019-20 school year.

The Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency is leasing five classrooms at Sunset for its preschool program. One of the classrooms will be used as an office.

NEMCSA will also use an outside storage unit, Mary Lyon, assistant superintendent of business and operations for Alpena Public Schools, said at Monday’s district Property Committee meeting. NEMCSA is paying the district $100 a month for the storage unit.

“They moved some classrooms out of Lincoln (Elementary) and Ella White (Elementary),” Lyon said. “It kind of centralizes their little group.”

District Superintendent John VanWagoner said some work was completed to the classrooms. An asbestos abatement company came in and removed tiles that were becoming unglued in a classroom and new carpet squares were installed in that room.

“They’re all moved in,” VanWagoner said of NEMCSA.

A separate locking system will be installed so there’s a separation between NEMCSA and the homeschool program. VanWagoner said NEMCSA agreed to pay for that.

The group will use an alarmed door system, so, if a preschool student pushes that door, an alarm will go off. Staff can use that door with a keypad system.

Sunset closed in 2010 because of declining enrollment, but reopened last year to 115 homeschool students in kindergarten through 12th grade as part of the Alpena Family Partnership Program. VanWagoner said enrollment is still ongoing for the upcoming school year, so it isn’t yet clear how many homeschool students will attend in 2019-20.

“It’s a real win-win,” VanWagoner said. “That building is at full capacity and ready to rock for the school year. It’s exciting to really see. They see that as a home that they want to continue to grow and expand.”

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.