Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Footprint for new Moose Lake school approved


This floor plan for the new Moose Lake Community Schools building is unanimously approved by the school board at a special meeting of the board February 17.

Members of the Moose Lake School Board unanimously approved the latest footprint for the new school at a special meeting of the board on Tuesday, February 17.

"Now that's a 21st century school," board member Steve Blondo said a friend of his said after seeing the latest plan.

"That's it!" phy-ed teacher Ann Haugen said was her first reaction when she saw the latest plan. Her comment was made at the Safe Routes to School meeting two days later.

The latest plan presented by Scott Sosalla of ARI, the school's architectural firm, features two wings to the north and south, with a semi-circular section of the administrative offices in the middle.

As one faces the front of the school, the elementary portion is to the north or left, and the high school portion is to the right or south.

The front of the school will face County Road 10, according to two site plans Sosalla presented to the board.

On one plan, all of the athletic fields would be located to the south of the school, with parking for 350 vehicles between the school and County Road 10.

On the other plan, the school would be placed farther back on the site, with the proposed football field and track to the north of the school, and the baseball/softball fields to the south. Parking would still be located between County Road 10 and the school building.

Sosalla explained he is attempting to locate the school building where it would best avoid displacing wetlands that were noted on a previous map. He had stated at the February 9 meeting his goal was to displace less than three acres of wetlands. If more than three acres of wetlands had to be replaced elsewhere, it would cause more issues.

In the new plan, the auditorium is located across the commons area straight ahead of the main entrance. The music area is located to the right of the auditorium, and the kitchen to the left.

There is access to the music area from the auditorium but there would be a solid wall between the auditorium and the kitchen to prevent cooking odors from entering the auditorium, he explained.

The two gyms, one for high school sports and another for elementary use, are located side by side to the left of the commons. Locker rooms are located behind the gyms, on the back side of the building, along with the fitness center. There could be direct public access to the fitness center if it is in that location.

However, Sosalla said the two gyms could be placed end to end and the locker rooms moved but that would result in the elementary gym being farther from the elementary wing.

The elementary wing stretches to the north with another wing stretching to the northeast. Two commons areas are located in the elementary section of the school, according to the plan.

Sosalla said those commons areas could be moved around within the footprint, if necessary.

Areas in the high school portion of the footprint could also be moved around, said Sosalla. On the latest plan the resource library borders the commons and the corridor to the south. It could feature a glass wall to the commons, where students could display their artwork.

However, one of the school board members pointed out, in their tours of other schools they had noticed that, while artwork was displayed on the glass wall of one school, the glass wall was covered with paper in another school. It was explained the students felt too exposed when they were in the room behind the wall.

Sosalla said the glass could be one-way glass.

Special education, business, the technology department, language, English, social studies and math classrooms are shown in the wing to the north, and art, science, industrial technology and technology and computer classrooms are located in the wing to the southwest, according to the plan.

A small flexible commons area with soft seating could be located next to the art room in a wider section of the corridor between the two high school wings, it shows on the plan.

The high school and superintendent's offices, along with a work room, are located in the south half of the semi-circular central administrative area, with the elementary offices, nurse and parent conference room in the south half of the semi-circular administrative area.

The main entrance to the school would be located between the two sets of offices.

"I like this plan," said board member Jamie Jungers, "but I am concerned that this plan will fit with the things outside (parking areas, parents and bus drop-off zones). We need to discuss these things at the same time."

Sosalla explained he just worked on the footprint for this plan. The areas outside the school would be designed now that the footprint has been accepted.

Concept drawings of the higher levels of the building, such as the two-story height of the gyms and the mechanical equipment on the roof, would be brought to the board in future meetings, Sosalla added.

Soil borings to determine the type of soil on the site would be done the last week of February, said Sosalla. A surveyor from Straight Line Survey of Moose Lake will mark where the building will be placed on the site.

Teachers will now be able to take virtual tours of their classrooms to see where SMART Boards and other equipment would be located. Bathrooms would be available in all of the lower elementary classrooms, said Sosalla.

The next public input session has been set for Monday, March 16, at 4 p.m. The school board meeting will follow at 5 p.m.


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