The Brainerd School Board must select from two options the Baxter middle school site plan that would better suit students.
The Brainerd School Board will make the decision sometime before the March 12 referendum. The school board, as part of a $59.9 million building bond referendum, is asking for $47.2 million for construction of a middle-level school in Baxter for fifth- through eighth-grade students.
Kevin Donnay, a vice president with Widseth, Smith and Nolting design and engineering firm, presented the two options recently to the school board.
Superintendent Jerry Walseth weighed the pros and cons of each plan. The school would be located on the district's 181 acres in Baxter between County Road 48, Mountain Ash Drive and Mapleton Road. The school, which would host 550 students per grade, would include about 330,000 square feet.
The first concept, which has the school built on the eastern portion of the property on 41 acres, would be more accessible to the community, said Walseth.
This concept has the fifth- and sixth-graders on one end of the building and the other two grades on the opposite side. The wings with the students would be two stories. This concept includes two playground areas for the fifth- and sixth-graders, two outdoor activity areas for the seventh- and eighth-graders, staff parking and a student pickup site.
This concept plan is beneficial because the proposed road loops around the school. Walseth said this would help control the number of people coming and going to the school.
"It also allows more pickup areas (for students)," said Walseth.
This concept also has an advantage in the way it sits. WSN designed the site to have a buffer around it so it is not right on the surrounding roads.
Walseth said the topography on this portion of the land is flatter and would be easier for construction. He added there are no known wetlands on this part of the property.
The second concept has wetlands. In this concept, the school is on 40 acres on the west side of the property along Mountain Ash Drive.
"This one is more compact and efficient with the ongoing maintenance, heat and lights," said Walseth. "You can also really see the separations (of grades)."
This plan has each grade at opposite sides with the core facilities in the center.
The school, in both concepts, would have a core area that includes a library, gymnasium, multi-purpose room, student service area, administration area and a combined cafeteria and auditorium.
The second concept has no room for expansion of the building because of the way it is designed, said Walseth. He said this design of the school would cause a potential traffic problem because there are more entrances to the school compared to the other site concept.
Walseth said the board will approve a site plan before the March 12 referendum. However, a more detailed plan would not be completed until a referendum is approved.
The district is following the state standards on class size, which would give each pod 18 classrooms and 14 specialty classrooms. The specialty classrooms would be for special education instruction, art classes, science classes and computer labs.
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