School Construction Project in Experienced Hands

Jill Van Dyken Hunt at a Schoolcraft school board meeting.

By Sue Moore

“I’ve sat quietly for the last three years on the Schoolcraft School board, having agreed to run three years ago to help with a potential building project,” said Jill Van Dyken Hunt. “Now I believe I can put my skill set to good use as we move forward to the design and build phase of the recently approved buildings for Schoolcraft.”

She has a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Eastern Michigan University and worked for a Kalamazoo architect for 18 years before accepting an offer from Stryker in 2010 to oversee a new building project.

She will chair the steering committee that will oversee the school system’s new 7th and 8th grade gym and classroom and then do a deep dive into design and build for the new elementary building.

Hunt is being humble about her qualifications. Accepting that 2010 offer placed her a team charged with bringing the company’s 485,000 square-foot. building at 1941 Stryker Way on Portage Road to fruition.

Her title is senior project manager on the facilities team for the Stryker Instruments Division. There were four people on the building team that now houses engineers and other staff from the division. The project took 10 years from start to occupancy.

Fortunately, Hunt doesn’t expect construction of the new school buildings will take that long. Nevertheless, there are a lot of unknowns because of the coronavirus outbreak.

At Stryker her team could meet together easily. They listened to what the staff told them they needed in their office space, did surveys of managers and engineers, then produced a building that they really love to work in now, Hunt said.

She and the school’s team of board President Jennifer Gottschalk, Trustee Wade Rutkowski, Superintendent Rusty Stitt, the three building principals and community member Kory Bienz will meet via Zoom to iron out details in the next few weeks.

“We have already started the process with the gym addition, getting the stakeholders involved in the early design,” Hunt said. “We’ll get down in the weeds with them to learn all we can, then come back to them with some options and narrow those down to two or three possibilities. We have to keep the amount of bond money in mind while making decisions. Right now, there are a lot of unknowns but we want to get out in front of this early. Once we go out to bid, the market could be quiet or really busy, we just don’t know.”

Meanwhile, Hunt is working for Stryker at home from her kitchen table. She is homeschooling her two children, Jamison, 9, in third grade and Sienna, 11, who is in fifth grade.

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