While a new Baxter Elementary School is under construction, plans are moving forward to convert the existing building into an early childhood facility.

Brainerd School Board members approved final schematic designs for the $5 million project Monday, June 10.

The new main, secure entrance will be on the north side of the building, along with parent drop-off and pick-up. Parking will remain on the north side of the building and be expanded with the demolition of the two-story fourth grade wing on the northwest side of the building.

Buses will drop students off on Fairview Road on the south side of the building. The bus entry will be locked during school hours.

Inside, the current library and media center will be opened up for more hallway space to help with flow and navigation for the young students.

School readiness areas will be spread throughout the building, and parent education rooms will be mixed in with early childhood family education rooms.

The "appendix" on the northeast side of the facility will house the Kinderclub area.

The project is currently tracking slightly over budget, but Jason Maaninga, of ICS Consulting, said he believes there is still time to get it back on track.

"We feel like we're in striking distance of the budget," Maaninga said. "We're working at trying to reduce things across the board."

Construction is set to begin in the fall of 2020 and be completed in 2021.

Brainerd High School

Board members approved construction documents for the Brainerd High School project and authorized construction managers to solicit bids for both the school renovations and the new performing arts center construction. Project managers will go out for bids in July.

Work on the $87 million BHS north campus project is set to begin in September, with construction estimated to be completed in the summer of 2022.

After renovations at the high school, all students will be housed under one roof on the north campus instead of being spread between north and south campuses.

The east entrance on the main level will become the school's secure main entrance.

Designs include more special education space, new health and wellness spaces, three common areas and a new media center.

A new eight-lane competition swimming pool will be added, along with 500 spectator seats separated from the pool deck. The pool area will also include locker rooms, shower facilities, physical education offices and a diving well separate from the pool.

Additional career and technical education spaces are included in designs, with separate areas to be designated for woodworking, metal working, agriculture/greenhouse, family and consumer science, robotics, small engines and business.

A northern addition to the high school will house the new 1,200-seat performing arts center, complete with high-visibility balcony seating; dressing rooms; band, choir and orchestra rehearsal spaces; instrument storage; and a secondary teaching space for music theory classes and guitar lessons. The lobby will be large enough to accommodate crowds for sold-out events.

The high school project is currently tracking slightly under budget.

Outside, the school's northern parking lot-near the performing arts center-will have 164 stalls. Two lots east of the school will contain a combined 260 parking spots, with 172 spaces in the northern lot and 88 in the southern lot. All parking lots include American with Disabilities Act compliant parking stalls.

Other projects

Work on a new secure entrance at Forestview Middle School began Monday. Work on the entrance and the reconfiguration of the parent pick-up and drop-off areas is planned to be completed this summer.

Work has begun on Nisswa, Harrison and Baxter elementary schools. The renovations to Harrison and Nisswa, along with the construction of the new Baxter Elementary School, are expected to be completed for the 2020-21 school year.