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Brainerd Public Schools: Board supports Jasperwood for new Baxter elementary

The map shows the proposed location for the new elementary school in Baxter, situated off a new addition to Jasperwood Drive, just east of Forestview Middle School. The Brainerd School Board approved this proposal Monday, Oct. 29. Map courtesy of Widseth Smith Nolting1 / 2
Tim Houle (center), a vice president of Widseth Smith Nolting, explains to Brainerd School Board members their options for the location of the new elementary school in Baxter.2 / 2

The Brainerd School Board voted for Jasperwood Drive as its preferred location for the new elementary school in Baxter.

Board members looked at four scenarios for the layout of the new school at its Monday, Oct. 29, board meeting and unanimously voted for the option with the new school set on a to-be-constructed portion of Jasperwood Drive, running northeast from Mapleton Road to Ironton Drive. The design includes modifications to the entrance of Forestview Middle School on Knollwood Drive, not far from the new school's proposed site.

Tim Houle, a vice president of Widseth Smith Nolting, walked board members through the four possible scenarios, all of them positioning the new elementary school near Forestview Middle School.

• Scenario 1: Build the new elementary school off a new section of Jasperwood Drive and vacate the section of Knollwood Drive between the south-central access and south access to the future school's parcel, creating two cul-de-sac style roads to ease traffic through the addition of a safe, non-vehicle traveled connection between the schools. Estimated cost: $3.2 million.

• Scenario 2: Build new elementary school off new section of Jasperwood Drive and keep Knollwood Drive as a two-way street with the possible addition of a roundabout at one of the entrances to Forestview. Estimated cost: $3.1 million.

• Scenario 3: Build new elementary school off Knollwood, across the street from Forestview, and create cul-de-sac style roads on Knollwood to ease traffic. Estimated cost: $4.7 million.

• Scenario 4: Build new elementary school off Knollwood, across the street from Forestview, and keep Knollwood Drive as a two-way street, with the possible addition of a roundabout at one of the entrances to Forestview. Estimated cost: $3.8 million.

Based on recent traffic studies, scenarios 1 and 3 include a roundabout at the intersection of Highland Scenic Road and Mountain Ash Drive because of the expected increased flow of traffic at that intersection with the cul-de-sac roads on Knollwood Drive.

Cost estimates, Houle emphasized, are comparative level prices, meaning they do not include line items for construction, engineering services, city meetings and processes, etc. They simply serve to compare project scenarios.

Houle recommended scenario 2, which is ultimately what board members agreed on, though some members questioned the need for a roundabout on Knollwood. That spot only sees increased traffic during two short periods each weekday—about an hour in the morning for drop-off and about an hour in the afternoon for pick-up.

"If you don't do a roundabout and you do a stop condition like it is today," Houle said, "you'll have 96-second average delay and about 500 feet of stacking back into Forestview Middle School."

Instead of a full-sized roundabout, though—like those on College Drive in Brainerd—Houle said a mini-roundabout is an option, which could potentially leave the intersection the same size it is today and cut down on costs.

Houle noted the traffic study was a 20-year study and took into account growth in normal traffic patterns, growth from a new elementary school, growth at Forestview and the possibility of eventual development south of Mapleton Road.

Board member Reed Campbell asked about putting up some sort of temporary barrier during the two times of day with heavy traffic flow instead of constructing a roundabout.

Houle said that is something the district can discuss with the city of Baxter while working on final designs. The board did not approve specific designs with its decision Monday, only that it would like to see the new school off Jasperwood Drive and for Knollwood to remain a two-way street.

Houle said he will take that information to the city of Baxter and continue discussion with both the city and county on land acquisition and infrastructure improvements in the rights of way.

In other business Monday, the board:

Recognized Gabe Jukish, a seventh-grader at Forestview Middle School, for his first-place finish in the International Jet Ski Boating Association's Junior Freestyle World Finals in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. He was one of three kids from around the world to qualify and compete.

Congratulated June Dahlgren, early childhood special education teacher, for being selected as the Distinguished Educator of the Year by the Brainerd Jaycees.

Transferred $24,578.07 from the district's general fund to the Community Service Fund to pay for early childhood health and developmental screening services. The district received $29,830 in funding but incurred a total cost of $54,408.07 for the screenings, which are required for public school enrollment.

Ratified the district's custodial contract with the International Union of Operating Engineers for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. Major changes include a 1.75 percent increase for the 2017-18 school year and an additional 1.75 percent increase for the 2018-19 school year. The contract expires in June 2019.

Approved a service animal policy, laying out rules and procedures for the use of service animals in schools, as three people in the district—both staff and students—requested the use of service animals this year.

Approved the hire of non-certified staffers: Colleen Bakken, a general education educational assistant at Early Childhood Family Education; Heike Bryant, a special education educational assistant at Riverside Elementary; Audrey Compton, an assistant cook/dishwasher at Forestview; and Hailey Hins, food services at Brainerd High School.

Accepted the resignations and retirements of: Katie Annand, a registered nurse at Forestview, resignation; Tracine McFadden, a special education educational assistant at Lincoln Education Center; Susann Rangen, a special education educational assistant at Baxter; and Gretchen Snow, a special education educational assistant at Forestview.

Accepted the following donations: $100 from Schwan's for student activities at BHS; $1,000 from Black Ridge Bank for bounce houses for homecoming; a truck and trailer from Miltimore Motors for homecoming; foam fingers from Members Cooperative Credit Union for homecoming; $313 from Jack Pine Brewery for the BHS Warrior Warehouse; $2,119.98 from the Brainerd Warrior Football Association for helmet decals and pants; $500 from the Nisswa Lions Club for student learning activities at Nisswa Elementary; $500 from Lake Hubert Women's Club for student learning and equipment at Nisswa; and $350 from American Legion Club for staffing supplies at Nisswa.

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