5 schools in southern district over capacity
At the recent Dist. 728 School Board Work Session the Board, staff and audience members heard scenarios for potential building expansion in Dist. 728 from Wold Architects and Engineers as well as the district’s Auditorium Committee.
While no plans have been solidified, Vaughn Dierks, representing Wold, did present some solid numbers that could serve as a framework in the coming months.
The meeting was necessary because Dist. 728 continues to enjoy the kind enrollment growth most districts would envy. More importantly, statistics strongly suggest that growth is going to continue. In fact, based on current numbers, Dist. 728 has five schools in the southern end of the district that are at 110% of capacity. Additionally, Twin Lakes Elementary, in Elk River, is also at 110% of capacity.
Because of those numbers, the district’s automatic policy that requires for formation of a citizen committee to discuss building options was triggered. In the coming weeks district administration will begin reaching out to citizens for input.
Though those numbers undoubtedly pose challenges for students and staff at those schools they also clearly indicate Dist. 728 is an attractive choice for families. Bearing that in mind, district and community leaders will be faced with necessary and difficult choices in the coming months and years.
To offer some perspective for the Dist. 728 Dierks offered a variety of potential construction projects that could be considered over time to meet the expected growth in student enrollment. Among them were:
• A third wing at Rogers High School, which has been mentioned numerous times in the broader discussion of growth in Dist. 728. The construction cost of the project would be about $9,750,000 with a total project cost of about $12,675,000.
• Construction of new auditoriums at Zimmerman and Rogers high schools would cost about $7,500,000 total, each.
• A new K-8 building in Otsego (to be built on land Dist. 728 already owns) would cost about $28,000,000 for construction and $36,400,000 total. The city of Otsego is
• Artificial turf fields at the district’s high schools would cost between $1,000,000 and $1,200,000 for construction and $1,200,000 to $1,400,000 total.
• A new field house at Elk River High School would cost an estimated $10,450,000 for construction with a $12,540,000 total project cost.
• Another point of discussion has been additional early childhood education spaces. At Hassan, an expansion would cost about $2,800,000 for construction and $3,640,000 total; At Otsego it would be $2,250,000 and $2,925,000; and at Zimmerman the estimated tally would be $1,750,000 and $2,275,000. The success of everyday kindergarten at Rogers and Zimmerman have tightened early education space even further.
• Lastly, Dierks gave the audience a construction cost of $2,300,000 and a total project estimate of $3,100,000 for an expansion at Hassan.
All discussion are still very much in the early stages and in the coming months district officials will meet with their colleagues as well as community members to decide how to best move forward.
One of the major goals for Dist. 728 leadership is to constantly keep a keen eye on population growth and trends. Those factors, more than anything, will guide the future of Dist. 728. The combination of outstanding schools and strong communities will almost certainly make Dist. 728 a draw in the coming years and the district is already taking proactive steps to meet that demand.
-Compiled by Aaron Brom