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Brainerd Public Schools: Board reviews designs for Garfield, Lowell, Riverside

A rendering shows the exterior of Lowell Elementary School after proposed updates. Photo courtesy of JLG Architects and ICS Consulting1 / 3
A rendering shows the draft designs for the exterior of Garfield Elementary School after proposed updates. Photo courtesy of ICS Consulting2 / 3
A rendering shows the exterior of Riverside Elementary School after proposed updates. Photo courtesy of JLG Architects and ICS Consulting3 / 3

Visual plans for Phase 2 of the Brainerd School District's building projects are now available for public review and feedback.

Consultants and designers from Widseth Smith Nolting, ICS Consulting and JLG Architects walked school board members through the initial schematic designs for updates to Garfield, Lowell and Riverside elementary schools during the board's meeting Monday, May 13.

Garfield Elementary School

Designs for the three-section Garfield Elementary School include an enhanced administrative area in conjunction with the new secure entrance, a kitchen addition near the entrance, a two-classroom addition on the north side of the building and enhanced special education spaces. New collaboration and flexible learning areas, along with an art, science and technology lab, will be structured around the media center.

The student queuing area for lunch will be restructured, as right now, students line up in the hallways. Under the new plan, students will enter through the doors where the current stage is located and from there, walk along the north wall, through the serving area and out to the cafeteria. There will then be a separate area for students to exit the cafeteria to improve the flow and limit congestion.

"This is a big improvement for us," Garfield Principal Jodi Kennedy said of the lunch plan. "We're happy."

On the outside, 29 additional parking stalls will be added on the north side of the building.

The project is currently tracking on budget, with the construction costs estimated at just under $7.36 million.

Lowell Elementary School

A two-story classroom addition at Lowell Elementary School will allow the building to house three sections of kindergarten and four sections of first through fourth grades.

The school's lower level will have the three kindergarten classrooms around a learning commons; art, science, technology and media spaces; a flex classroom; and remodeled special education classrooms.

On the main level, an addition will house two new first grade classrooms, while the other first and second grade rooms will be remodeled and placed around learning commons spaces.

Part of the addition includes a new secure entrance and vestibule, a new multipurpose cafeteria and a new kitchen.

The cafeteria will double as gymnasium space for kindergarten and first grade students to provide relief on the existing gym space and provide the younger kids with ample gym time.

On the upper level, the addition will house two new third grade classrooms, while the rest of the third and fourth grade rooms will be remodeled and configured around learning commons spaces.

Each level will see renovated restrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

If the budget allows, consultants hope to add movable partitions to the learning commons spaces and increase the size of the new kitchen.

On the outside, 45 new parking stalls will be added to the south of the building.

The project is tracking on budget, with construction costs estimated at just over $8.9 million.

Riverside Elementary School

After a 2015 addition, the entrance to Riverside Elementary School is already configured as a controlled entrance, meaning the entryway will just receive cosmetic upgrades to match the look of that of the other schools.

While much of the building will remain as is at the five-section elementary school, an addition on the east side of the building will house a new multipurpose gymnasium; staff lounge; art, science and technology space; and a cafeteria receiving area.

The layout of Riverside allows for a "public corridor," or space for the public to use just inside the entrance while the rest of the school—including the classrooms—can be locked down. Updates to this space include the removal of some cafeteria walls to allow for a more open concept, and the addition of a collaboration space, which will function as an eating area for some special education students. This room will have lower ceilings than the primary cafeteria, creating more controlled acoustics for special education students more sensitive to sound.

The kitchen—also in the public corridor area—will be demolished and rebuilt.

Space near the current gym will be reconfigured into storage space, and three kindergarten rooms, along with the Title I programming area, will be remodeled. Title I programs provide students with extra instructional support beyond the regular classroom to help low-achieving children meet state standards in core academic subjects.

The eastern addition will impact the playground, meaning the basketball court will be reconfigured and some playground equipment moved.

The Riverside project is also tracking on budget, with the construction cost estimate at about $9.97 million.

Designs for all three projects are available at www.blueprint181.org/schools. Plans are not yet final, and the public is invited to provide feedback through the Blueprint 181 website.

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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