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Whittling the wish list

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Detroit Lakes Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

It's a collaborative game of back and forth, as the Detroit Lakes School Board takes the ball in its court while constructing a multi-project facilities plan that includes a new 1,000-seat K-3 elementary school.

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Two weeks ago the plan was in the hands of a community steering committee charged with brainstorming ideas and projects.

Those additional projects caused the entire plan to shoot up to roughly $61 million - $18 million more than the architect's original estimate.

Although school board members have expressed a desire to "get things right the first time" and openly solicit ideas from the public and the committee, they spent a good chunk of time Monday night going through the latest plans and desires line by line with the intention of bringing the cost of the proposal back down to a more "realistic" number.

The board eliminated an idea to build a new entrance to the high school, which was placed in there to enhance security, but instead suggested the much less expensive idea of moving the doors to where the front office is. They also essentially shot down the idea of building a new, bigger wrestling facility.

"I think it's too hard to try to convince people that we need a new wrestling room when we just built a new one a few years ago," said Board Member Ladd Lyngaas, while outgoing Board Member Tom Klyve pointed out how crowded the current wrestling area is for the size of the program, particularly for the younger wrestlers.

Ultimately, the new wrestling room project was taken out of the plan with the idea that there is still a space issue there that should be addressed somewhere down the line, possibly through additional gym space and extra mats.

The board also eliminated the idea that would have moved the Middle School kitchen, while keeping some other additional projects like installing air conditioning throughout the Roosevelt building and possibly re-vamping the drop-off/pick-up area for buses and parents at Roosevelt and the Middle School.

By the end of the meeting, board members had scraped $10 million worth of proposed projects from the plan, deeming them desirable but ultimately unnecessary.

With regards to the new proposed elementary school, there is still no word on exactly where it could go.

The board agreed to shoot for April 9 as the day to bring the proposed plan to the public in a special vote. Until then, the plan will once again be put back into the steering committee's court for another round of discussion and feedback before being thrown back to the board on Jan. 2.

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