Classroom additions at Blaine’s Jefferson Elementary approved

The Blaine City Council unanimously approved the Anoka-Hennepin School District’s request to add a dozen new classrooms to Jefferson Elementary School.

The school district is in the midst of a projected $34.3 million project to add classrooms at six elementary schools, including Adams, Eisenhower, Franklin, Lincoln and Sand Creek, as it prepares to meet a state mandate to provide all-day kindergarten districtwide by next year. It currently offers this educational programming in 16 of its 24 schools.

Neighbors did not show up to the Dec. 5 council meeting where the council approved this conditional use permit and nobody showed up to a Nov. 5 neighborhood meeting regarding the district’s plan to add four classrooms and a mechanical room on the north side of Jefferson and eight classrooms and a mechanical room on the east side. The portable classrooms would be going away.

“The portables have been there forever. It would be nice to see them gone just because kids deserve facilities not quite as rundown as portables get,” said Councilmember Kathy Kolb, who is an elementary school teacher. “Whether it’s mandated or not, all-day kindergarten is a good thing.”

The Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Department is requiring a new access loop on the east side of the building. Within this area would be at least 14 additional parking stalls, according to Community Development Director Bryan Schafer.

The school district is interested in expanding this new emergency access loop by creating a new access from 113th Avenue. The 44-stall parking lot on the south side of the building would move to this new access and total 46 stalls, plus the 14 stalls within the emergency access loop for a total of 60 parking spaces.

Currently, buses and vehicles use an access off Jefferson Street, according to the district, which causes traffic to back up on Jefferson.

Kolb lives in the neighborhood and sees people parking on 113th Avenue as well.

A new access off 113th Avenue would alleviate these traffic conflict issues, said Steve Anderson, director of buildings and grounds for the school district.

However, it will only be constructed if the school district gets a good bid, according to Anderson.

“We’re experiencing a lot of soil correction issues trying to go across this lower elevation to 113th. We’re anticipating the longer driveway with the turnaround would get most those cars off the street,” Anderson said.

Kolb said some neighbors of hers are concerned about a new driveway impacting a drainage ditch.

Schafer said the access would cross east of the ditch.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]