High praise came Monday, Sept. 10, for architects, engineers, project managers and others involved in creating schematic designs for building updates in the Brainerd School District.

"We really do feel like our voices have been heard by all of the consulting groups," Baxter Elementary Principal Tammy Stellmach told the Brainerd School Board Monday. "I'm just very thankful and, I would say, proud of the work that my group has done and of the community for their investment in us."

Newsletter signup for email alerts

The school board approved designs for Harrison and Nisswa elementary school updates, along with designs for the new elementary school in Baxter, during its meeting Monday. Chris Ziemer, project director at ICS Consulting Inc., presented the designs.

An addition at Harrison Elementary School, he said, will house the main office and a new gymnasium. The old gym will turn into a media center. The school's entrance will move from busy Oak Street to Norwood Street.

"It will be so much safer for our students with this design," Harrison Principal Cathy Nault said.

Nisswa Elementary School will see a full-sized gymnasium with additions to the current gym, a two-story classroom addition, remodeling on the southern end of the building, enlargement of the cafeteria and remodeling of the kitchen and office area. Ziemer said the addition will also have room for more classrooms to be added on in the future if needed.

Nisswa Principal Molly Raske said the plan is better than she could have imagined, especially with two stories of new classroom space.

"It's going to shift everything," she said. "It's amazing."

A new elementary school in Baxter will be able to house at least five sections of kindergarten through fourth grade, with room to expand to up to eight sections of each grade, Ziemer said. There will also be room for an extra gym in the future if the district gets funding.

Ziemer said the next phase, after approving the schematics, is to start looking at specific designs for each new room.

Board members Ruth Nelson and Bob Nystrom did not attend the meeting, but sent letters of support to the board. Superintendent Laine Larson read those letters before the rest of the board members unanimously approved all three design plans.

"Working with Chris and the entire crew, they need to be commended," Nault said. "They listened to every minor detail that we asked of them, and they made it come true in better form than what we ever could envision."

Ziemer said planning for the district's next phase of renovations, which include Garfield and Lowell elementary schools, will likely begin in the spring.

Property acquisitions

The board will host a public hearing on property acquisitions needed for the district's renovations at 5:45 p.m. Sept. 24 in the boardroom at the Washington Educational Services Building.