The future Brainerd School District building referred to thus far as the "new elementary school in Baxter" officially has a name.
Baxter Elementary School.
At the request of community members, the new school will keep the same name when it opens for the 2020-21 school year as the current school on Fairview Road. That building will be turned into an early childhood facility.
Community Education Director Cori Reynolds walked school board members through the results of a community-wide survey during a special board meeting Monday, April 15.
Of the nearly 300 responses from residents, parents, students and school staff, more than two-thirds supported keeping the current name. The board, in turn, unanimously approved Baxter Elementary School as the name.
With that issue settled, the board then approved purchase, assessment and development agreements for the new school's property on Jasperwood Drive near Forestview Middle School, along with contracts for the building's construction.
The board agreed to the district's purchase of the 40.7 acre property-legally described as Lot 2, Block 1 in City Center of Baxter First Addition-from the city of Baxter for $650,000.
The development agreement between the school district and the city gives the district authorization to build the new elementary school on a to-be-constructed portion Jasperwood Drive. The project requires improvements on Mapleton Road as well as Jasperwood, and upgrades to Forestview Middle School require improvements on Knollwood Drive. Under the assessment agreement, the city will complete these improvements at a cost not to exceed $2.24 million, which the district will levy as part of its referendum.
The school district is responsible for the new building, as well as the construction and installation of municipal water lines, private sanitary sewer, private drainage controls, private 100-year stormwater design, private parking lot, site lighting and landscaping.
Under the development agreement, the district will:
• Construct the project according to city specifications.
• Provide utility easements over all sanitary sewer mains, sanitary sewer manholes, water lines, water valves, fire hydrants and a joint stormwater pond.
• Pay an estimated $431,624 in sewer availability and water availability charges.
• Reimburse the city for its reasonable costs related to incorporating the project into the city's geographic information system, estimated at $1,206.
• Pay an estimated cost of $1,870 for the Baxter city engineer to inspect the municipal portion of the project.
Marci Lord, the district's director of business services, told the board there is some risk involved with the language of the purchase agreement but added she and Superintendent Laine Larson are OK with it because of the district's historically good relationship with the city of Baxter.
"If we were to back out (of the project), the city of Baxter right now has contracts for this project, so they would be held liable for those costs," Lord said. "And then on the opposite end, if we go and purchase this land and then for whatever reason the city decides to not do Jasperwood, then we would be in a tough spot. So we're both kind of at risk right now with how it's written, but we feel pretty comfortable with that just with our relationship with the city."
Larson stressed the decision to take that risk was up to the board but ensured members of her and Lord's confidence, given the frequent and amicable meetings about the project with city officials.
"We feel very comfortable with the relationship that we've built and the trust level that we've built," Larson said.
The board agreed, approving all three agreements unanimously.
Board members then approved 14 construction contracts for the project at a total cost of just over $17.8 million, which is under the $20.3 million construction estimate.
Brandon Kellerman, of ICS Consulting, said low estimates mean plans for the building include both potential add-ons, which are a fully adhered roof and athletic resilient flooring in the gym. The resilient flooring, according to flooring specialist Anderson Ladd, performs like wood to protect athletes from injury in sports like basketball and volleyball but are also well-suited for other sports, like tennis and track, and can withstand wear and tear from track spikes.
Contracts were awarded to the following bidders:
• Earthwork/improvements/utilities-J.R. Ferche of Rice, $1.8 million.
• Concrete-BCI Concrete of Backus, $885,000.
• Precast concrete-Wells Concrete Products of Wells, $472,970.
• Masonry-Harbor City Masonry of Duluth, $859,295.
• General construction-Hy-Tec Construction of Brainerd, $5.96 million.
• Roofing-Thelen Heating and Roofing of Brainerd, $638,000.
• Aluminum entrances and glazing-Brainerd Glass, $740,000.
• Flooring-Floors by Beckers of St. Cloud, $526,000.
• Athletic resilient flooring-Anderson Ladd of Minneapolis, $103,700.
• Acoustical ceilings --- St. Cloud Acoustics of St. Joseph, $240,900.
• Food service equipment-Culinex of Fargo, $342,650.
• Fire protection-Absolute Fire Protection of Saginaw, $154,400.
• Electrical-Avon Electric Services, $1.67 million.
• Plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning-RJ Mechanical of Mora, $3.45 million.
"This is so exciting that it's all coming together, the land purchase and the contracts," board member Ruth Nelson said, thanking Kellerman and his team for their hard work.
About the school
The new two-story Baxter Elementary School should be able to house up to 625 students and at least five sections of kindergarten through fourth grade, with room to expand to up to eight sections of each grade. 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.
The eastern side of the building will have a secure main entrance and open up to an administrative suite on one side and a cafeteria/event area with a dual-sided stage on the other.
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 area.a