Pending approval from the city of Blaine, Spring Lake Park Schools will build a new preK-4 elementary school near the intersection of Davenport Street and 105th Avenue on current National Sports Center property.
“I’m excited to be at this point,” said Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg.
The most recent phase of the district’s facilities project took off in 2015 when the Community Facilities Design Team crafted a long-term vision for its facilities, bearing in mind projected enrollment growth.
Independent demographer Hazel Reinhardt updated projections for the district in 2014, forecasting a 20 to 25 percent enrollment increase by the 2024-2025 school year. If Reinhardt’s predictions come to pass, as many as 6,800 students will attend Spring Lake Park Schools eight years from now. As of the Oct. 1, 2016, enrollment count, 5,677 students attend Spring Lake Park Schools.
The work of the Community Facilities Design Team led the district to plan for a new preK-4 elementary school.
The district started land negotiations in 2015 and honed in on three Blaine properties: NSC land, bank-owned property near the intersection of Lexington and 109th avenues and land owned by the Metropolitan Airports Commission near 85th Avenue and Highway 10.
“There are numerous benefits of locating the new school at the NSC site,” Ronneberg said.
One is a cost savings. The option will end up being $3 million less expensive than others when purchase price, soil remediation and land development costs and off-site improvement bills are considered.
The district will purchase 11 acres from the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission, a state agency that owns the NSC. The cost is about $1.4 million – $346,000 to buy the land, $700,000 to construct a parking lot and $416,000 for soil remediation.
The district will have joint use of an additional 10 acres of green space and 4.5 acres of parking, and the district can purchase 3.6 additional acres in 2019 when the NSC’s contract with the velodrome lapses.
Ronneberg is excited about extensive green space that can be used not only during the day by elementary students, but also by student athletes beyond the school day, he said. Plus, “there’s numerous partnership opportunities with the National Sports Center.”
NSC Executive Director Todd Johnson is enthusiastic about potential partnerships, too.
“The NSC offers facilities and events that will provide unique educational benefits to students and their families, and we are excited to explore how to use the resources of the NSC to support and enhance the educational mission of the school district,” he said.
The new school will be centrally located in the district, which means students will spend less time on buses traveling to and from school.
Parking and traffic studies by civil engineers with SRF Consulting Group show that existing infrastructure will be sufficient after the school is built, administrators reported.
The Elementary Core Design Team has worked with Wold Architects to design flexible space that will be able to change as student needs do.
“We’re going to be able to be effective in the future,” said Mike Callahan, director of student services. “It’s not just for the here and now.”
The School Board voted unanimously to approve a purchase agreement between the district and the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission Feb. 14.
District staff anticipates approval by the city in April, and then construction would begin immediately for completion before the 2018-2019 school year.
A boundary study will kick off this summer with new boundaries being drawn in winter 2018.
The new school is the largest project being financed through the $49.9 million bond referendum voters approved in April 2016.