Rossman Elementary was the first of Detroit Lakes’ four public schools to break ground on construction as part of a major districtwide project to add space and make upgrades at each of the schools.
With work beginning in May of 2019, Rossman was first to the start. And now, the school is first to the finish. As of Sept. 2, all that was left to do at Rossman was some minor detailing work and cleanup, and for teachers to set up their classrooms. Construction workers at the other three schools had further to go yet before reaching that finish line.
Some of the updates at Rossman were unveiled last school year, including a remodeled administrative area and media center, some new or remodeled classrooms, security upgrades, and a new indoor collaborative area, which had previously been an enclosed outdoor courtyard.
Construction of a new south gymnasium and classroom addition continued through last school year, wrapping up in June 2020.
Parts of the project that continued through this summer include a new commons area and kitchen near the main entrance of the school, as well as more classroom updates.
Principal Construction Manager Dan Kleist, of Gehrtz Construction, said outdated lighting was replaced with LED lights throughout the school, and new data wiring was installed.
Almost all the construction materials used came from local sources, Kleist said, and “about 95% of contractors were local, too,” being from no farther away than the Fargo area.
In all, the project added 21,600 square feet of new space to Rossman, Kleist said, and most of the existing space was remodeled.
Principal Jason Kuehn said the new additions at the school's north and south ends are home to three new kindergarten classrooms, two fourth grade rooms, two music rooms, a band studio, three offices and conference rooms, plus the south gym. Everything was done to modernize the facility and accommodate a growing student body, he said.
“We’re excited to be on the tail end of it now,” he said. “We’ve been living through the construction project for the last 16 months … but now, to see it all completed -- they’ve done a great job.”
Kleist said the biggest challenge was “incorporating the new into the old” in a seamless and sensible way, but looking back on the project now, he added, “It actually went really well. The principal and administrators are pretty great to work with.”
Kuehn commented on how well the older parts of the school blend with the new, and said he’s pleased with the more “modern feel” that the school has now.
“I think in general it gives us a lot more flexibility and overall space to do the things we hope and want to do, that we were limited on in the past,” he said.
Fun facts about the Rossman project
Number of bricks used: 58,000
Number of concrete blocks used: 24,000
Square feet added: 21,600 (17,600 at the south gym addition and 4,000 at the north classroom addition)