Two architects from ARI presented concept drawings of two versions of a new school to the Moose Lake School Board at an Ad Hoc Committee meeting on Tuesday, July 8.
One concept was of a pre-K through 12 school, with part of the building on two levels, and the other concept was of a school all on one level.
“It depends on how the building sits on the site,” said Scott Sosalla, one of the architects. “You could have a school with part of the building on two levels without an elevator. We could build into a hillside and build ramps to the upper level. You have some natural grade on the site.”
The architects explained that pre-K and kindergarten would be on the lower level and grades one through six would be on the second level. The footprint of the building would be smaller but the square footage at an estimated 150,000 square feet would be larger than a one-level building at 144,000 square feet.
Katie Hildenbrand said skylights would allow natural light to enter the building on a one-level school.
“I thought that a two–story school would be better but it is recommended that a single story is the better way to go,” said Superintendent Robert Indihar. “There’s the issue of safety but there are other things, too.”
Safety measures included a safe room, exterior lighting, no tree line close to the building and small panes of glass in the windows, which would be more secure and less costly to replace.
Sensors would be placed in the building that would turn on lights when someone is moving inside the building at night. Lights would indicate to law enforcement officers driving by that someone was inside the building.
Lighting in the rooms would adjust automatically according to the amount of light entering the room.
“They call that daylight harvesting,” said Sosalla. “It’s all automatic. On a cloudy day the lights would brighten, and on a sunny day the lights would dim. The teachers can control the light for showing video presentations.”
After further discussion, the remainder of the board members agreed a single level school was best.
Sosalla said a new building would be very energy efficient.
“Technology has come so far, energy conscious-wise,” he said. “The building would be sealed to not let energy out.”
The architects also explained the gym in the new school may be eligible for partial funding as a shelter for severe weather.
The board discussed the placement of the building on the site and its visibility from Highway 73. Several board members stated the traffic on Highway 73 should not be seen from the school, while others felt the building should be visible to foster community pride.
Hildenbrand said they do not have the topography of the site as yet. Sosalla said they had just received the wetlands information for the site. Fourteen acres of wetland has to be set aside elsewhere to make up for the wetlands on the site.
It was suggested the architects confer with the city engineer regarding wetlands and topography of the site.
Board member Jamie Jungers stated the developer who had just purchased 24 acres of former school district property near the site for the new school had indicated a stub would be installed for sewer to the school.
“That would save us a half a million dollars, if not more,” he added.
The architects said they met with teachers and staff, such as the custodians, about needs in a new building.
“The custodial staff had a lot of good ideas,” said Supt. Indihar.
“Their lives will change completely,” said Sosalla.
Supt. Indihar and the board members discussed the next steps.
The next board meeting had been moved up a week to July 14 and that was not enough time for the architects to refine the concept and return with a possible cost of a new school.
Supt. Indihar pointed out the board needed that information in order to pass a resolution to call for a referendum election and to send the plans for the building to the Minnesota Department of Education for Review and Comment by an August deadline.
Costs, such as the demolition of a portion of the old school, which the school district cannot afford to keep if it is not being used, have to be included in the bond amount.
Other costs, such as bond selling, interest, design costs, construction costs, parking lot, athletic fields, a bus garage, water and sewer lines and road to the new school would also be included in the amount to be bonded.
Supt. Indihar also said storage space is needed for grounds maintenance equipment, extra desks, scenery and sports equipment.
He added that representatives of the city and Central Minnesota Housing Partnership had toured the school a day or two before the meeting and are interested in the building for potential housing in the older portion and city offices and providing space for other uses in the elementary portion.
A special meeting of the Moose Lake School Board was set for Monday, July 28, at 4 p.m. to review the plan for the new school from the architects and review the final cost for the bond amount. The board will consider passing the resolution at the special meeting.