MOSCOW — Moscow Charter School broke ground Tuesday on a long-planned middle school expansion that school leaders hope to have completed by mid-March.

School Administrator Tony Bonuccelli said the expansion has been in the works since at least 2013, the year he was hired. He said watching the project finally come to fruition after years of planning has been an emotional experience.

“I’ve been on cloud nine,” Bonuccelli said. “It has been just surreal. Friday, just watching them come in and get everything fenced off and start moving things around, I teared up a lot just knowing that this is finally becoming a reality. It is super exciting.”

Bonuccelli said construction will be completed in three phases. For the first phase, crews will begin construction on the physical building, which will house four new classrooms, including a state-of-the-art science space. The second stage will include moving into the new building, removing a portable classroom and leveling a residential house on the campus that had previously been converted to school space. When the house is removed, a parking lot will be constructed in its place, completing the third and final phase.

The full project will cost about $1.5 million, Bonuccelli said, which has been financed by a loan from P1FCU. Charter schools are barred from issuing bonds or levies.

“Our school has (been) dedicated for three years to build a better teaching environment, and this year, we’re finally creating one,” said eighth-grader Graeme Miles-Barker, the school’s student body president.

Founded in 1998 by Mary Lang, Moscow Charter School is the first charter school in the state, Bonuccelli said. He said the original vision for the school included instruction for grades K-6 with about 16 students per class. The school has since expanded to include middle school grade levels, with about 22 students per class. Bonuccelli said the renovations will help the school better meet the goals of the mission and vision laid out in its charter.

Leslie Baker, chairwoman for the school’s board of directors, said the new facilities have been a long time coming, but it’s the tightknit community of students, parents, instructors and other supporters that make Moscow Charter School remarkable.

“We break ground on our new building today with excitement as our dreams of new classrooms and new learning spaces are about to start to become a reality,” Baker said. “But the real essence of Moscow Charter School has been there all along because it’s not about buildings, it is this supportive educational community that all of us have built together.”

Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to sjackson@dnews.com.

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