School board faces tough future spending questions

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Early childhood class space, junior high, pool all part of discussion

As it refines its $11.5 to $14 million comprehensive maintenance and upgrade 10-year plan for District 777’s school buildings, three key questions will have to be answered by the board of education.

Does the district want to invest over $2 million in junior high classroom space that was constructed in 1928 and 1950, or tear it down and build new classrooms?

Does it want to invest in new early childhood classroom space at the Northside Elementary to meet the growing need for providing education to the youngest children in the community? Such an investment is seen as key to attracting, and keeping, young families in the community.

And, what does it want to do with an indoor swimming poor that is underutilized but expensive to maintain?

Last month, the board of education again met with architect Paul Youngquist of Architects Rego + Youngquist of St. Louis Park, to go over the architectural, mechanical and electrical work needed to ensure the district’s elementary and high school buildings last another 20 years.

It is now projected that the Benson High School, which includes the Junior High Auditorium, will need $1.845 million work in the next five years and another $2.479 million work in the following five years. The Northside Elementary will need $814,400 in work in the next five years, but $3.320 million in the following five years. The Junior High School needs $2.32 million in the next five years and $715,900 in the five years after that.

There is another $2.539 million in work for the three schools that is listed as optional. However, Youngquist told the school board that those options applied to new construction and really didn’t need to be part of the plan the school board needs to address...

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