The district is undertaking a project entailing light remodeling, heavy remodeling and new construction at the school, which serves elementary through high school students. The project envelops a total of about 125,600 square feet, which includes about 65,600 square feet of new construction. Totalling about $42 million, two referendums are covering the cost of the project. Both referendums were overwhelmingly supported in the midst of the pandemic.
“We’re so thankful for the community support, and their action on May 12 will impact students for generations to come,” said Superintendent Tom Jerome.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held July 16 for the project, which was designed by JLG Architects. Kraus-Anderson serves as the construction management firm. Construction began on Phase 1 a short time after groundbreaking. The two-phase project is estimated to be completed in fall 2022.
“We could not be more pleased with the progress of this project,” Jerome said.
Phase 1 features heavy remodeling and new construction. Jerome noted that all remodeling is starting from scratch since the existing space was stripped completely down to the outer shell of the building. Phase 1 includes new classrooms for English, foreign languages, social studies and health. It also features some special education resource rooms.
“Phase 1 is on time and within budget,” said Jerome, who noted that the remainder of the project continues to be within budget.
Phase 1 is expected to be completed by mid-June. Jerome anticipated that students will attend classes in the affected area this fall.
Before long, work will begin on Phase 2. As Jerome said, Phase 2 will include everything else. It will feature new construction, heavy remodeling and light reconstruction. After that phase is completed in fall 2022, high school students will have new space for career and technical education, including machining, welding, drafting and woodworking. A new gym, a new multipurpose room, and a new music suite for band and choir are also on tap.
Secure entrances will be created for both the elementary and high schools. A new, improved drop-off area will be developed for elementary students.
New offices will be created for both the elementary and high schools. The elementary school will also feature a new teacher workroom. The high school will feature more space for independent, flexible learning.
The new, improved building will also feature more natural light and high quality indoor air.
Jerome said the district has taken great steps to keep some of the original structure and also be fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars. For instance, the district is maintaining beams in the existing gym, which is expected to save the school about $250,000. Other cost-saving measures were utilized by maintaining or keeping portions of the building, such as exterior walls and beams, when appropriate.
The entire construction project wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community, district staff and district partners. Jerome said, “That vote on May 12 was a win for northwest Minnesota.”