2018 Top 10: No. 1 - Voters approve $205 million referendum to refurbish Brainerd schools
Designs are in place for renovations on existing buildings and construction on new facilities in the Brainerd School District. These changes were more than three years in the making, becoming a reality after nearly 10,000 voters approved three re...
Designs are in place for renovations on existing buildings and construction on new facilities in the Brainerd School District.
These changes were more than three years in the making, becoming a reality after nearly 10,000 voters approved three referendum questions for a total cost of $205 million in a special election April 10.
The first two questions asked voters to invest in elementary and secondary education buildings as well as the Early Childhood Family Education program. The third question-contingent on No. 2 passing-asked for a performing arts center at Brainerd High School.
A margin of 233 votes tipped the performing arts center into a reality, while more than 2,000 separated the yeas and nays in Question 1 and roughly 1,000 for Question 2.
"We promised our community that we will provide the highest quality educational opportunities for our taxpayers' generous investment," Superintendent Laine Larson said during a school board meeting the week after the referendum. "When our voters went to the polls they gave from their pocket book and they gave their heart, and we need to keep that in mind as we move forward."
The voter approved cost for the projects is $145.8 million. Those funds have already been put to work designing updates for Brainerd High School and its performing arts center, Nisswa and Harrison elementary schools and a new elementary school in Baxter, all of which the school board approved. The schools will see new secure entrances, increased classroom spaces and more parking, among other updates. A new competition-size swimming pool will make waves at Brainerd High School, along with renovations allowing all students to be housed under one room-the north campus-for their classes.
Additional changes coming after April's referendum include:
• Renovating Garfield, Lowell and Riverside elementary schools; Forestview Middle School; Washington Educational Services Building; and Brainerd Learning Center.
• Converting the current Baxter Elementary School into an Early Childhood Center.
• Demolishing the Lincoln Education Center to create a parking lot for the high school and performing arts center.
The district is now in the process of acquiring 17 properties near Brainerd High School and Garfield, Lowell and Harrison elementary schools to create parking lots and designated drop-off zones for those the facilities. District administrators and several vocal parents believe this plan will increase safety for students, staff members and others going to and from the school buildings.
More information about the school district's post-referendum plan is available at blueprint181.org.