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Brainerd School Board: District approves designs for new elementary, Brainerd High School

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

Plans are rapidly moving forward for building projects in the Brainerd School District.

Brainerd School Board members gave their stamp of approval Wednesday, Dec. 19, to designs for the new elementary school in Baxter and updates for Brainerd High School.

New elementary school in Baxter

Though the location is not yet set in stone, board members previously expressed desire to see the new elementary school in Baxter on a to-be-constructed portion of Jasperwood Drive running northeast from Mapleton Road to Ironwood Drive. Designs would likely include updates to Mapleton Road and the addition of a roundabout or two near Forestview Middle School to help with traffic flow around the neighboring schools.

Chris Ziemer, project manager with ICS Consulting, told board members Wednesday of meetings with officials from the city of Baxter, Crow Wing County, the school district and Widseth Smith Nolting to hammer out the plan details. Ziemer said the most recent meeting on Tuesday drew some concerns about potential updates to Maplewood Road. Cost-sharing among the city, county and school district is still up in the air as well, so Superintendent Laine Larson suggested tabling a vote on the school site until Jan. 14, when more information will be available.

The board did, however, approve the design development plan for the new elementary school. The plan lays out a two-story, five-section building able to house up to 625 students. The eastern side of the building will have a secure main entrance and open up to an administration suite to one side and a cafeteria/event area with a dual-sided stage on the other.

Each grade will have a learning commons area surrounded by five classrooms. A flex classroom will be available to any grade that may see a spike in enrollment.

Designs include a music room, media center and art/science/technology space.

Outside designs include a parking lot to the north of the school, a bus loop to be used for additional parking when buses are not present and a designated parent drop-off space.

Brainerd High School

Board approval also came for updates to Brainerd High School, which will—when construction is complete—house all students and classrooms under one roof on the north campus.

Designs include more special education space, an eight-lane competition swimming pool, new health and wellness spaces, three commons areas, a new media center and more career and technical education spaces.

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.

A northern addition to the school will house the new 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.

In other business Wednesday, the board:

Approved the hiring of certified staffer Kelsi Brusehaver, an early childhood/family education teacher at the Brainerd Learning Center and Early Childhood Family Education center; and non-certified staffers: Will Riley, a special education paraprofessional at Riverside Elementary; and Travis Snyder, a special education paraprofessional at Baxter Elementary.

Approved the resignations of Sheila Maclaughlin, a special education paraprofessional at Garfield Elementary; and Kevin McMenimen, transportation router at Washington Educational Services Building.

Approved the second reading of new ordinances relating to community education, visitors to the district, distribution of materials on school grounds and rewards for information on crimes against students or district employees. The board will likely approve the ordinances at its next meeting.

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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