Taxpayers in the Brainerd School District will be asked to approve $60 million for school construction and renovations.
The referendum likely will go to voters this spring.
After seven hours of discussions Thursday, the Brainerd School Board adopted a plan and will ask district voters to support a $59.9 million building bond.
The plan includes building a middle-level school in Baxter for grades five through eight that would cost $47.2 million. Including fifth-graders in this school would free up space in the elementary schools.
What the bond issue includes
Brainerd School District residents will vote on a $59.9 million building bond this spring.
The bond includes:
-- $47.2 million for a fifth- through eighth-grade school to be built in Baxter.
-- $4.15 million for technology needs throughout the district.
-- $750,000 to move the administrative, community education, Fun and Friends, the media and technology offices to Washington Middle School.
-- $7.8 million to construct a a ninth- through 12th-grade campus, connecting the high school with Mississippi Horizons.
School officials said one advantage of this plan would be all fifth- through eighth-graders would receive the same educational opportunities because they would be housed in the same building. The students also would have outdoor space for physical activities.
A new middle-level school also would alleviate stress on the elementary schools and free up 19 classrooms. At Baxter Elementary School, 100 fifth-graders would move to the new school and free up four classrooms; Garfield, 75 students, three rooms; Harrison, 50 students, two rooms; Lincoln, 75 students, three rooms; Lowell, 75 students, three rooms; Riverside, 100 students, four rooms; and Whittier, 25 students, one room.
Nisswa fifth-graders could remain at the elementary school or choose to attend the new middle school.
The board's plan includes maintaining the elementary schools.
In the future, the board may address additional elementary building needs.
The board would like to move ninth-graders to the high school. The plan calls for renovating the high school and connecting it to Mississippi Horizons at a cost of $7.8 million. A gymnasium would be built between the two schools.
The board decided ninth-graders should be part of the high school because their credits apply toward graduation. Adding ninth-graders also would allow students to share common facilities, such as industrial art rooms and the pool.
The bond includes $4,150,000 for technology and $750,000 to move the administrative offices out of Mississippi Horizons. The offices would be relocated to Washington Middle School, which would no longer be used as a traditional school building. The district may use the building for community programs.
Franklin Junior High School would be closed for school purposes. Board chair Lew Hudson said no action has taken place as to what would become of Franklin. It was suggested the school could be used for other purposes, such as senior housing.
The board discussed building a high school in Baxter.
"I would like to see the high school stay in Brainerd," said board member Janet Moran.
Moran said the high school in Brainerd has necessary facilities, such as athletic fields, a pool and access to an auditorium.
Randy Klinger, board member, agreed. He said keeping the high school in Brainerd would boost economic development in the city.
"I don't have a strong feeling either way," said Bernie Roberts, board member. "We would solve the problem either way. I don't believe we'd be pulling away from Brainerd."
Board member Ruth Gmeinder said she wants the high school to stay in Brainerd for political and economical reasons. She also said keeping the high school where it's at would be helpful in coordinating programs with Central Lakes College.
The largest building referendum approved in the Brainerd School District was $13.7 million in 1994 to purchase the technology college from the state to build Mississippi Horizons and to build a physical education addition at the high school, as well as an addition to Riverside Elementary School. In 1990, the district attempted a $30.5 million referendum, which failed. The building bond was sought to construct a junior high school and an auditorium at the high school.
In the mid-1960s, the high school was built at a cost of about $6.5 million.
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