Washington project on track to wrap up this summer

The Washington Educational Services Building is the last of the Brainerd Public Schools construction projects resulting from the 2018 referendum.

Winter shot of the Washington Educational Services Building
Washington Educational Services Building Jan. 19, 2022.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — By summer, all building projects resulting from the 2018 Brainerd Public Schools bond referendum should be complete.

Brainerd School Board members heard an update Monday, Feb. 13, about Washington Educational Services Building, the last of the district’s remodel projects. It is set to be complete by July 1, though Damien Williams, project manager with ICS, said crews are motivated to finish sooner, as contractors would like to move on to other summer projects.

The Washington building on Oak Street dates back to the 1920s and houses the district’s welcome center, administrative offices and the Paul Bunyan Education Cooperative.

It doesn’t look like much is happening on the outside of the building, but I know inside it looks a lot different right now.
Damien Williams, project manager with ICS.

Work on the building includes the relocation of offices, addition of a multipurpose flex space and more bathrooms, updating of existing bathrooms and the addition of a wheelchair lift on the south side of the building. Bus and parent drop-off and pickup will move from Oak Street to South Eighth and Pine streets.

Williams showed board members pictures of the work Monday. Drywall is scheduled to go into the new welcome center Feb. 20, and duct work is occurring in the locker bays on the first and second floors. The lower level boiler room has been emptied out, and crews have gotten rid of all the asbestos that had been in the area through paint on the walls. New boilers are set to come in March, Williams said.


Also in March, work will begin on the new accessible entry in the southwest corner of the building. When that is complete, the building will have two entries complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act. All bathrooms will be updated according to ADA standards as well.

WESB welcome center.JPG
Photos from ICS show construction work happening in the new welcome center at the Washington Educational Services Building as of Monday, Feb. 13, 2023.

“It doesn’t look like much is happening on the outside of the building, but I know inside it looks a lot different right now,” Williams said.

Williams and other officials with the consulting firm ICS have worked with the district on remodeling and construction projects at nearly every Brainerd Public Schools facility since the passage of the referendum in April 2018. After Williams’ presentation Monday, board member DJ Dondelinger, who was first elected this past November, asked who ICS was and where it was based. Williams explained the firm was the construction manager for the district’s whole Blueprint 181 plan that resulted from the referendum and said the company is based in Minneapolis, but he himself is from Pillager, and ICS has offices in Brainerd, Park Rapids and Sauk Rapids.

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With more than $200 million worth of construction soon coming to an end, board member Randy Heidmann asked if there had been any egregious change orders thus far, and Williams said there have certainly been some changes but no horrible surprises that crews were not anticipating.

While Washington is under construction, district offices and the welcome center are located at 110 NW Third St. which is the red house on the southeast side of Riverside Elementary School. School Board meetings are taking place in the choir room at Forestview Middle School during construction.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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