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Riverside and Lowell schools part of capital projects

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The Paul Bunyan Educational Cooperative offices will be getting a new home and Riverside Elementary School will get more parking spaces and a safer parent pick-up/drop-off.

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These were two of the Brainerd School District’s capital improvement projects that are part of the docket to be completed before the start of the 2013-14 school year.

The Brainerd School Board approved $3.5 million in capital improvement projects at its Jan. 14 meeting, after taking recommendations from the board’s facilities committee that met Dec. 6, 2012. The facilities committee met again Thursday to hear updates on the projects, as well as agreeing to an additional option that would bring the $3.5 million in capital improvement projects up to $4.6 million.

The capital projects the district plans to proceed with will be done in two phases:

Phase one that consists of $1.5 million includes:

• Relocating the district’s warehouse facility that is presently leased for about $100,000 a year from the Baxter Industrial Park to building a new warehouse at the Forestview Middle School site in Baxter.

• Demolish the building that currently serves as the offices for the Paul Bunyan Educational Cooperative. The building is located right in front of the Riverside school parking lot. The offices would move to the third floor of the Washington Educational Services Building. This would allow for redevelopment of the city block at Riverside school to create a safer and easier traffic flow for school buses and parent pick-up and drop-off site, as well as increase the parking capacity to more than 100 spaces.

Phase two that consists of $3.1 million includes:

• To improve the indoor air quality to current standards at Lowell Elementary School.

Improving air quality at Lowell is the project where the facilities committee agreed to adding roughly $1 million to the capital improvements priority list. The original plan, estimated at $2 million, would have only provided the air quality improvement to the first and second floors at the school. If the school board approves the committee’s recommendation at its February meeting, the district also will expand the air quality improvement to the lower level of the building.

Steve Lund, Brainerd School director of business services, said the cost of improving the indoor air quality to the first two floors at Lowell is estimated to be $2.26 million. The lower level cost would be about $864,000.

Lund said the $3.12 million in capital projects will have a net tax impact savings. Lund said a homeowner with a property value of $137,900 would see a 49-cent per year decrease. A commercial business with a property value of $261,600 would see a $1.93 a year decrease.

Lund said the cost of the phase one capital projects is $1.5 million and the district will be issuing $1.2 million in capital facility bonds. The remaining $300,000 will be used from the district’s operating capital reserved funding to complete these projects.

Lund said the district currently has existing capital facility bonds that were part of a 2003 air quality project for Riverside and Baxter schools, which will be paid off in 2014. Lund said the new projects will replace the old bond with a new bond issue. Lund said that the district anticipates a much lower interest rate on the new bond.

Lund said because the debt service of capital facilities bonds is paid from the district’s existing amount of annual operating capital funding, it does not increase the local tax levy nor require voter approval.

The sale of the bonds are schedule to sell by competitive bid on Feb. 20.

Details of the capital improvement projects

Relocation of Paul Bunyan Educational Cooperative Offices and redeveloping Riverside site:

The office building of the Paul Bunyan Educational Cooperative, which has had maintenance issues for years will be demolished. This will allow more space for parking and for the district to create a safer, better child pick up and drop off site.

Lund said that the plan will require a redevelopment of the block owned by the district just west of Riverside between Williams and Charles streets. This block of property contains about 2.2 acres.

Lund said that the 35 staff members in the cooperative will be relocated to the Washington building to the third floor. Lund said currently four vendors are leasing the space and two have moved to other space at Washington to make room for the additional staff.

The tentative plan for Riverside, the largest elementary school in the district, will be to take the current 30 parking spaces to 112 spaces.

Lund said the plan is to make the loading of the buses and the child pick up and drop off areas separated. The 14 buses would angle park on the northern part of the block near Charles Street. The buses would enter the Riverside block from Charles Street and exit onto Highway 210 by taking a right only to avoid the busses from getting backed up.

Parents would enter the block through Williams Street. Lund said parents would line up in their vehicles around the parking lot and then have there child picked up at the sidewalk in front of the school.

Warehouse changes

The lease on the current warehouse, housed in the Baxter Industrial Park, expires in April. The district spends about $100,000 a year on the lease. Lund said the warehouse is 12,000 square feet and the district does not need this much space anymore. Lund said with the school’s declining student population and with the logistical changes that the district has made over time with how products are delivered from its vendors, the district does not need this amount of space.

“We operate 12 school facilities and kitchens that serve more than one million meals each year and we continue to need centralized storage and warehouse space,” said Lund.

Lund said there is space at Forestview for a warehouse on space the district already owns. Lund said the Forestview site also offers a more centralized space for the warehouse employees.

Lund said the new warehouse would be about half the size.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl.

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