ADA requirements carry price tag for Brainerd school district
Meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements at three schools could cost about $813,000 for the Brainerd School District. At the district's Facilities Committee meeting Thursday, the group heard from Mara Peterson, a certified a...
Meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements at three schools could cost about $813,000 for the Brainerd School District.
At the district's Facilities Committee meeting Thursday, the group heard from Mara Peterson, a certified accessibility specialist with Julee Quarve-Peterson, after she assessed each of the three schools needing upgrades. Those schools are Harrison Elementary, Lowell Elementary and the Lincoln Education Center (LEC).
The most vital is the LEC because of the specialized programs it offers, Peterson said, noting that it's "incredibly" important to get access to them.
Lowell also has a higher priority because of the Gifted and Talented AGATE Program it offers, she said.
Peterson broke down the needs for each of the schools:
Special programs offered: Level four special education. This is the only place in district it's offered, and it pulls in students from surrounding districts.
ADA issues: Access needed to lower level, where there's the cafeteria, home economics kitchen, weight room and art program. The three-story building has no elevator. Several doors and drinking fountains will need to be altered.
Solution options: Move the center to another location (eliminating need to be ADA compliant); accommodate a specific student as need arises; install a limited use limited application (LULA) elevator; install an elevator.
Special programs offered: Gifted and Talented AGATE Program.
ADA issues: The three-story building doesn't have an elevator or a handicapped accessible bathroom. Because of the special program there, the district must provide handicapped access. Also needed is an accessible bathroom on the lower and first floors. The playground needs a transfer system and an accessible entry point.
Solution options: Move the program to another location (eliminating need to be ADA compliant); accommodate the specific student; relocate essential activities (cafetera, music room) to first floor and install a platform lift; install an LULA elevator for lower level access or a combination of platform lifts and other devices; install an elevator and possibly an external shaft in the building.
Special programs offered: None.
ADA issues: The three-story building doesn't have an elevator. There's no accessible bathroom. The playground needs a transfer system and an accessible entry point.
Solution options: Accommodate a specific student as need arises; create access to gym and first floor and relocate the music classroom; create access to lower level and relocate music room and one classroom to lower level; install an elevator/egress stair.
The district's current policy is to send a disabled student to a handicapped accessible school should they live in the neighborhood of an elementary that doesn't have full access.
The middle and high schools are handicapped accessible.
Because a student could be sent to another school instead of Harrison, it makes the upgrades not as "urgent" as the other buildings, said Superintendent Klint Willert.
He said each of the schools have issues the district has to address.
Earl Wolleat, director of buildings and grounds for the district, estimated the fixes at the buildings would total about $813,000 together. Individually, Lowell could total $273,000; Harrison at $340,000; LEC at $200,000.
The committee took no action on the issue, instead agreeing to keep mulling over options as they move forward.
JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews .