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Brainerd School Board: District releases more details on building proposals

The Brainerd School board has released additional details on its facilities plan. Harrison Elementary School is set for an update or to be replaced. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch

Two new elementary schools could be built in the Brainerd School District and the public could see major renovations done to all the school buildings.

But nothing is set in stone and, ultimately, it will be up to district voters to decide what will be done.

The Brainerd School Board met in an all-day meeting Wednesday with district administrators, principals and consultants hired to assist the district in implementing its comprehensive facilities plan geared to meet future needs.

The board hired Foster, Jacobs & Johnson Inc. to assist the district with its facilities program management services. The company's sub-consultants, Widseth Smith Nolting and Kraus-Anderson Construction, are assisting in the consulting process.

The school district hosted public listening sessions at all its schools earlier this year and have spent countless hours coming up with a plan for each of its buildings. The board has not come up with a final plan, but discussed the proposals at each building Wednesday.

WSN consultants Kevin Donnay and Erica Marcussen led the discussion of the proposed plans, which included estimated dollar amounts of what the cost could be if the plans were approved.

The board has made no decisions on the plans or how it will go to voters with a referendum. The district could present the referendum to voters as one ballot request for funding or it could break up the funding with multiple ballot questions. Costs could be as much as $228 million, if the highest estimates of all proposed projects went forward.

Below are the estimated costs of each plan:

• Brainerd High School—South Campus: $10 million-$11 million.

• Brainerd High School—North Campus: $78 million-$83 million.

• Forestview Middle School: $1.5 million-$2 million.

• Baxter Elementary School: $24 million-$26 million for a new school.

• Baxter Early Childhood Hub: $9 million -$10 million to be built in existing school.

• Garfield Elementary School: $9 million -$9.5 million.

• Harrison Elementary School: $20 million-$21 million to update existing school or $25 million-$27 million to build new.

• Lowell Elementary School: $12 million-$13 million.

• Nisswa Elementary School: $12 million-$13 million.

• Riverside Elementary School: $10 million-$11 million.

• Brainerd Learning Center: $1.5 million-$2 million.

• Lincoln Education Center: $500,000 to demolish it.

• Washington Educational Services Building: $1.5 million-$20 million (Plan is based on a lot of factors at this time).

Elementary school discussion

Baxter Elementary School

Proposal is to build a new school at a different site and repurpose the existing building into a "Baxter Early Childhood Hub," with which the building would serve as the main location for early childhood offices and classrooms. Details on how the hub would work are still unknown, but early childhood officials would like to have the hub at the Baxter school location and continue to offer its satellite classrooms in Nisswa and Brainerd.

The new Baxter building would become a five-section school, meaning five sections for each grade. It would be 85,780 square feet in size and serve 625 students.

Officials looked at 10 Baxter locations for the new school, but narrowed the list down to a few when looking at traffic control, pedestrian activity, water and sewer accessibility and land acquisition. Properties of interest include the area of Woida Road and Inglewood Drive, north of Highway 210; and an area by Forestview Middle School that the district already owns. For this property, the district would have to cut down part of the FMS forest.

Garfield Elementary School

Proposals would: decrease the number of classrooms from 17 to 15 and enrollment would go from 393 to 375; turn the school into three sections; add a controlled entrance for safety and security; enlarge two kindergarten classrooms; expand the kitchen area to improve food services; and renovate to provide space for art, science and technology education.

Harrison Elementary School

Options are to renovate the school or to build new. Proposals would increase square footage by 30,000 square feet and bring the number of classrooms from 14 to 20, with enrollment increasing from 275 to 500, and turn the school into four sections. Renovating the existing school includes: improving security and supervision; providing elevator and ramp for accessibility throughout the school; repurposing the gym, media center and music room; and renovating to provide space for art, science and technology education.

Lowell Elementary School

Proposals would: decrease the number of classrooms from 19 to 15; add three art/science/technology rooms and enrollment would go from 429 to 350; turn the school into two sections; add a controlled entrance for safety and security; add a multi-purpose room to relieve space on the existing gym and kitchen and improve food service; relocate current kindergarten classrooms to a new addition, enlarge existing classrooms and relocate general classrooms from the lower level; and renovate to provide space for art, science and technology education.

Nisswa Elementary School

Proposals would: increase the number of classrooms from 12 to 15 and enrollment would go from 300 to 375; turn the school into three sections; add a controlled entrance for safety and security; reconfigure the kitchen to improve food services; enlarge classrooms and the music room; and dedicate space for art, science and technology education.

Riverside Elementary School

Proposals would: decrease the number of classrooms from 26 to 22; add two art/science/technology rooms and enrollment would go from 620 to 500; add a controlled entrance for safety and security; expand the administration area for a nurse's station, a conference room, a workroom and offices; add physical education space and storage; enlarge existing classrooms and the music room; and renovate to provide space for art, science and technology education.

Secondary school discussion

Forestview Middle School

Proposals include: adding a controlled entrance for safety and security; improving parent pick-up and drop-off; and completing deferred maintenance.

Brainerd High School—South/North Campus

Proposal would have all ninth- through 12th-graders under one roof at the north campus.

The south campus, which currently serves only the ninth-grade class, would be repurposed to serve students who attend the Lincoln Education Center.

The LEC building on South Sixth Street in Brainerd would be demolished.

The entire north campus would be renovated and remodeled to make improvements and to be more efficient. More classrooms would be added. The old pool would be renovated and an eight-lane competitive pool with a diving well and lockers would be added. The proposal includes building a performing arts center on the north end of the school and a new gymnasium. The cafeteria and kitchen area would be reconfigured and the career and technical education area would be improved. More common areas for students are in the plan, including more relaxing spaces in the media center, which could include charging stations.

Traffic studies

In other facility plan discussions were two traffic studies, one at Forestview and one on South Fifth Street. The district is talking about vacating a portion of South Fifth Street in front of the high school, as it also owns the property across the street, as well as the LEC, which would be demolished. The district discussed getting rid of the traffic light on South Fifth Street and Quince Street.

Traffic study data will let the school officials know how many vehicles are coming in and out of their properties and will give them an idea on how to design the road accesses into the schools.