School construction continues during COVID-19 pandemic

Washington Educational Services Building
The Washington Educational Services Building. Brainerd Dispatch file photo

Construction crews are working through the COVID-19 pandemic to complete the Brainerd Public Schools building projects on time.

The two projects planned to be finished by fall 2020 are remodels at Harrison Elementary School and construction of the new Baxter Elementary School. Project Manager Damien Williams of ICS told school board members Wednesday, April 15, crews are working to meet those deadlines.

Williams said crews at every construction site are taking precautions to prevent COVID-19 by social distancing, using hand-washing stations and not taking lunch breaks together. He expects there may be some obstacles in the future, though, with the closure of some manufacturing plants where materials are coming from and the possibility to be short-staffed if anyone gets sick.

“We’re just going to take it a day at a time and try to be as optimistic as we can be and keep getting work done,” Williams said via Google Hangouts Wednesday.

He believes the new Baxter Elementary will be ready for students to occupy this coming fall. And with students now doing distance learning from home, Williams said he hopes crews may be able to get a head start on work at Harrison that would have otherwise had to wait until summer. It is not yet clear, though, if students will return to the buildings this school year.


In other business Wednesday, the board:

Hired Jessica Rindal as a school psychologist at the Paul Bunyan Educational Cooperative, beginning July 1.

Laid off the following employees: Adult services coordinator, Baxter Parks and Recreation coordinator, youth development coordinator, Insight coordinator, five Fun ‘N’ Friends employees and one drivers education employee.

Approved a resolution of non-renewal for non-tenured adult basic education teacher Karla Zeck.

Accepted donations to the district: A Kawai GE-1 grand piano from Sandra Mills for the choral classroom at Forestview Middle School; $5,000 from Mills Honda for the Forestview science, technology, engineering and math program; $2,675 from the Nisswa Lions for first grade books at Nisswa Elementary; several weeks of bread and produce from Costco for student lunches; shopping bags from Cub Foods, Kohls and Essentia Health for student lunches; shopping bags and boxes from Super One Foods for student lunches; 7,000 servings of bread from Brownberry Bread for student lunches; face masks from Cherrywood Fabrics and from parents for food service employees.

Approved a two-year agreement with Josten’s for Brained High School yearbooks for $36,284.85.

Approved the purchase of Wenger music cabinets and storage equipment as a part of the Brainerd High School construction project for $112,581.

Approved the purchase of furniture, fixtures and equipment for the Brainerd High School construction project for $193,383.07. This cost is under budget.


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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