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Brainerd Public Schools: Board reviews designs for high school, new elementary school

A rendering shows the proposed front view of the new elementary school in Baxter, located off Jasperwood Drive. Photo courtesy of Widseth Smith Nolting and ICS Consulting

Plans are taking shape for more of the Brainerd School District's building projects.

School board members reviewed preliminary plans for Brainerd High School's north campus and the new elementary school in Baxter during their meeting Monday, Dec. 10.

New elementary school in Baxter

After the board voted in October for Jasperwood Drive as its preferred location for the new elementary school in Baxter, consultants with Widseth Smith Nolting and ICS Consulting drew up plans for a two-story, five-section building able to house up to 625 students.

A secure entrance on the east side of the building will open up to an administration suite on the left with offices, board rooms and a staff resource area. On the left upon the entering the building will be a cafeteria/event area with a dual-sided stage, functioning for both the cafeteria and the gym on the other side.

Each grade will have a learning commons area surrounded by five classrooms, with kindergarten through second grades on the first floor, third and fourth grades on the second floor and special education spaces on both levels. A flex classroom will be available to any grade level that may see a spike in enrollment. Should the school see a dramatic enrollment increase in the future, an extra classroom can be added to each grade's wing, along with a second gym, for six sections.

Designs include a music room and art/science/technology space in conjunction with a media center. A movable partition will separate the media center from the art/science/technology space, if needed, or be able to move out of the way for larger activities.

The outside of the building will feature a parking lot to the north, a bus loop to be used for additional parking when buses are not present and a designated parent drop-off space.

Project manager Chris Ziemer, of ICS Consulting, said the outside plans are still somewhat in development.

Brainerd High School

The main goal with renovations to BHS is to house all students and classrooms under one roof—the north campus, ICS consultant Erica Marcussen said.

Starting on the lower level, additional special education spaces will be added to the north end, while the south end will contain the new eight-lane competition swimming pool. Locker rooms and other necessary sports support spaces will be nearby, and the space under the current main level swimming pool will be used for health and wellness spaces and team meeting rooms.

The east entrance on the main level will become the school's main entrance, as a majority of the parking is proposed east of the school. The entrance will open into a commons area in the northern part of the building, which will also feature two more commons areas as well, one for athletics/activities and one for additional cafeteria eating space.

North of the main entrance will remain an academic area, where some spaces will be subdivided into special education classrooms.

The original media center in the north end of the building will become space for the developmental coordination disorder program. The current locker corridor will turn into a new media center.

More career and technical education spaces will be added, along with various art classrooms.

Some staff offices will be repurposed into collaborative and staff resource areas.

An addition to the north will house the 1,200-seat performing arts center, complete with 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 current career and technical education area will remain in the south part of the building, with the addition of a "storefront" to showcase the students' work.

"That would be, I'm hoping, a really exciting thing, to just allow the public to see all the great things that our students are doing," Marcussen said.

The existing swimming pool on the main level will become a multipurpose gym.

The upper level will remain dedicated to academics, with science labs and math classrooms.

Public feedback

The plans presented Monday for both Brainerd High School and the new elementary school in Baxter are not yet final, and can be viewed at Public feedback on the designs can be submitted on the website.

The board will likely approve the plans for both schools at its next board meeting Wednesday, Dec. 19.

In other business Monday, the school board:

Approved the retirement of Connie Lyscio, a teacher at Baxter Elementary School.

Approved the hirings of Ellie Krautkremer, a paraprofessional at the Brainerd Learning Center; and Theresa Kruchten, a paraprofessional at BHS.

Accepted gifts and donations to the district: $315 from Boys-N-Berries LLC for the BHS choir, $750 from Nisswa American Legion Auxiliary for teacher supplies at Nisswa Elementary School; $1,000 from Mille Lacs Corp. for Community Education for the Fathers Reading Every Day program, and $2,000 from For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, for BHS robotics.

Approved designs for Harrison Elementary School. Updates to the school include a new secure entrance on Norwood Street, additional learning spaces, a new gym, bigger cafeteria and new media center. Construction documents will now be drawn up so the project can go out for bids.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Harrison Principal Cathy Nault said after approval.

Approved the first readings of four new district policies:

• One concerning community education, the purpose of which is to convey to employees and the public the important role of community education within the district, according to the district. The policy includes four objectives administration should strive to follow: maximum use of public school facilities within the school district service area; periodical determination of educational needs and residents' interests; use of community resources and residents' expertise to develop a well-rounded community education program; and encouragement of residents to actively participate in program opportunities.

• One concerning visitors to district buildings. According to the proposed policy, the school board welcomes visits to school buildings by parents and members provided visits are consistent with health, education and safety of students and employees.

• One concerning distribution of materials. If approved, the board would allow orderly and nondisruptive distribution of materials on district property upon request on a case-by-case basis.

• One concerning rewards, the purpose of which is to offer rewards to anyone who provides reliable information leading to the conviction of a person who has committed or conspired to commit a crime against students or school employees, volunteers or board members as a result of their affiliation with the district.

Theresa Bourke

I started at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and the Brainerd School District. I follow city and school board officials as they make important decisions for residents and students and decide how to spend taxpayer dollars. I look for feature story ideas among those I meet and enjoy, more than anything, helping individuals tell their stories and show what makes them unique.

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