ISD 181 Viewpoint: A proposal for new buildings in the new year
As the familiar Christmas saying suggests, "Presence is more important than presents." Having our community participate in the Blueprint 181 comprehensive facilities planning process these past few years has been a gift that I truly cherish.
After more than three years of gathering and analyzing data, listening to our students, staff, and community, and carefully weighing the options and alternatives, on Monday, Dec. 11, the Board of Education approved the Blueprint 181 Comprehensive Facilities Plan. The plan will go forward to voters in three questions that will appear on the ballot of a special referendum election scheduled for Tuesday, April 10, 2018. Mark your calendar for this important date!
Question One addresses the elementary schools and early childhood education needs. In summary, this question includes:
• Build a new elementary school in Baxter;
• The existing Baxter Elementary will be repurposed for Early Childhood Education programming;
• Additions and remodeling will take place at Harrison, Garfield, Lowell, Nisswa (including Early Childhood Education), and Riverside Elementary Schools; and
• Washington Educational Services Building (WESB) will be updated for additional Early Childhood Education, Fun 'N' Friends, district administrative and the Paul Bunyan Education Cooperative offices.
Question Two addresses the needs of our secondary facilities. A summary of this question includes:
• A significant addition and remodeling of Brainerd High School north campus to bring all 9th-12th grades under one roof, while updating classrooms, adding multipurpose and collaboration spaces, improving the gymnasium and pool, and providing a 950-seat auditorium;
• South Campus will be remodeled for the Lincoln Education Center, STARS and Transitions Plus programs, as well as maintaining the wrestling/locker rooms and district vehicle parking and servicing area;
• Remodeling at Brainerd Learning Center will enhance the middle and high school alternative programs;
• Forestview Middle School projects will increase safety and security and address the drop-off and pick-up issues; and
• Deconstruction of the Lincoln Education Center building.
Approval of Question Three will be contingent upon the approval of Question Two. This question will upgrade the proposed high school auditorium to a 1,200-seat performing arts center, encompassing an orchestra pit, lighting and acoustic updates.
The total cost of this plan is $205 million for work at all 12 buildings. After making use of currently available funds to reduce the long-term impact on taxpayers, the amount voters will be asked to weigh in on is $145 million. If all three questions are approved, the total tax impact on the median home value in our district of $156,200 is $7 per month. Further information about how the plan will be funded and a tax calculator for local property owners will be available on blueprint181.org in January.
Brainerd Public Schools will continue to engage residents in the Blueprint 181 plan and provide the information necessary for voters to make an informed decision on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. We will hold informational meetings around the community this winter and spring. In the meantime, please check out blueprint181.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 218-454-6900 with any question or concerns.
Thank you for your support of students in their educational journey! I look forward to sharing these exciting plans with you in the New Year and seeing you at the polls on April 10. Happy holidays to all!