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Voters say YES to new high school in Alexandria

A new chapter for Alexandria School District 206 began on Tuesday.

Voters overwhelmingly showed their support for building a new high school in Alexandria in the special election held Tuesday.

With 5,554 (57 percent) votes cast for the new school and 4,226 (43 percent) against it, the referendum passed by a large margin - 1,328 votes.

"It is a good day for the community and for students and staff," Superintendent Terry Quist said. "This community has always been extremely supportive of education. It is what makes the community work."

Quist offered community members his thanks and gratefulness for their support.

Detailed design work on the project will start immediately, according to the district. Quist anticipates most design work will be completed around December or January.

Then, the construction bidding process will begin. Quist said the district plans to implement the lowest qualified bidder method to award the contracts.

"We will try to work carefully with local contractors, building smaller bid packages to keep the work local as much as possible," Quist said.

Onsite work is anticipated to begin in late spring or early summer 2012.

"Our goal is to break ground in early summer," Quist said.

Completion of the project is expected before the fall semester of 2014. Students currently in 9th grade will be among the first class to graduate from the new school.

Ninth-grader Danika Guenther, 14, said she and her friends were happy the referendum passed and thrilled that her class will be the first to graduate from the school.

"We are really excited about the new school and how many new things there will be there," she said.

Other changes within the district will be implemented as a result of the successful referendum.

In the fall of 2014, the middle school will accommodate students in grades six to eight, while the elementary schools will house kindergartners through grade five.

The 167-acre site for the new high school is located at the intersection of 50th Avenue and Pioneer Road, across the street from the Knute Nelson Grand Arbor project.

"Thanks to the combined efforts of many, we were able to design the best high school we could at the least possible cost," said Alexandria School Board Chair Dean Anderson. "With the $4 million from private capital campaign pledges and $2 million for the contingent sale of Jefferson, we reduced the tax impact of the new high school on taxpayers."

The total anticipated cost for the project is $70.5 million.

The building bond referendum will cost voters $65.15 million, paid over 25 years with interest.

Based upon the assumption of a 4.68 percent interest rate, the total of principal and interest over the 25 years would be $124.25 million, according to estimates provided by the district.

The Lowdown:

Details on plans for the new high school

Project highlights:

A building to house 1,400 students in grades 9-12.

Two three-story academic wings that include 36 classrooms, 12 flexible learning spaces for small or large groups, science labs, a technology/engineering lab, art rooms, a media center, and special education classrooms.

Up-to-date technology infrastructure.

A commons/cafeteria in the center of the building that serves both as a hub for students and a gathering space for the community.

A performing arts wing with dedicated music spaces as well as a 1,000-seat auditorium.

An activities wing with a 3-station gymnasium and additional spaces to promote physical fitness.

Eco-friendly energy-efficient design with outdoor green areas; access for individuals with disabilities; design appropriate for student and community needs.

A large auditorium, athletic fields and other spaces available to the public for activities, events and organizations. other spaces available to the public for activities, events and organizations.