Bigger and better: Details emerge about what the DL school bond would provide
Detroit Lakes schools are getting older and some are bursting at the seams, so school officials are hoping voters will give their blessing to a nearly-$50 million combination of additions, renovations and infrastructure upgrades to solve the problem.
Unhappy with either the price tag, the location of the new school or the plans for existing schools, voters have rejected three prior levy referendums to build a new school.
So this time around the school board opted for the lower-cost option of simply improving the four existing schools — the high school, the middle school, Roosevelt Elementary and Rossman Elementary.
"I've heard a lot of positive things (about the plan)," said District Business Officer Ryan Tangen. "It's using the buildings we have, and people like their location."
Here are some of the highlights of the plan:
Detroit Lakes High School
Three additions will be built onto the high school, increasing its size by about a third:
A ninth-grade wing will be built on the north side of the high school, which will give the first-year high-schoolers some secure space and also fit with the "academy model" of a schools within a school that the district is embracing, Tangen said. It also frees up space elsewhere and "right-sizes the building" for the number of students, he said.
A larger addition will be built near the front entrance to provide a secure entryway, enlarged commons area and full-sized gym with complete bleachers. Bleacher seating in the current main gym is limited by the stage on one side.
All the schools are hurting for gym space, and it's been difficult to meet the district's mandate of gym time for every student, every day, Tangen said. The new high school gym will have a walking-running track, which will shift gym classes away from running through the hallways, as they do now.
A small addition in a back corner near the staff parking lot will provide for a full-sized Family and Consumer Sciences area, and free up the old, narrow FACS room for storage space.
The student parking area was due to be redone this summer, but the district has held off on that, to avoid heavy equipment wrecking the new parking lot if the referendum passes.
Extensive remodeling is also planned, along with mechanical, electrical and infrastructure upgrades. Total project cost for the high school is about $27.1 million.
Detroit Lakes Middle School
There are no additions proposed for the middle school. Space will be freed up by moving fifth-graders back to Roosevelt Elementary next door. A fitness room will be added to help meet physical education goals, and a security entrance will be added via remodeling.
The biggest chunk of the middle school project is improvements to the mechanical systems. The heating system will be completely upgraded. Lighting, electrical distribution and data cabling improvements are all part of the plan.
The school was built to be heated by electricity, which made sense at the time, but not anymore, Tangen said. The end result will be a full boiler hot water system for heat, and better lighting to "really brighten it up," he added.
The project would go along with work now underway on the school's exterior, which will make the building look better and improve its insulation and lighting. The district will save significantly on utility bills because of the improvements. The referendum cost is about $5.3 million at the middle school.
Two additions at Roosevelt will increase the school's size by more than 29,000 square feet, nearly doubling the size of the school.
A large addition to the north will add 10 classrooms, five of which will be used for the fifth-graders coming back over from the middle school.
A smaller addition on the south side will house a new gym. "The gym space is so undersized for the number of kids there," Tangen said.
Because of parking lot reconfigurations done this year, a large green space has been freed up on the south side of Roosevelt for outside play and recreation.
Extensive remodeling and improvements will also be made at the school, including window replacement and tuck-pointing of masonry. Estimated project cost is just over $9 million for Roosevelt.
Three additions are planned for Rossman, which will increase the size of the building by about a third. The largest by far will replace the four aging wooden portable classrooms on the south side. Eight new classrooms and a new gym will be built in their place.
A smaller addition will turn a small interior courtyard into part of the school, with skylights to keep the natural light.
The smallest addition is a security entrance at the front of the building.
Renovations and remodeling will also be done, along with lighting, electrical, data cabling and mechanical upgrades.
Estimated project cost is about $8.3 million for Rossman.
The proposal will cost the owner of a $150,000 home $173 a year in additional property taxes.
School district voters will have the final say on the proposal, which will be on the general election ballot Nov. 6.