Members of the Mounds View facilities task force updated the school board on their efforts and findings at the Jan. 24 school board meeting.
The task force includes 39 community members, including parents, teachers and administration members. Since September, the group has met to gather information and to offer recommendations to the school board to address several key issues.
The first key area is enrollment and capacity. Through a demographic study done by Hazel Reinhart, the district discovered that there will be a significant increase in students, with a projection that elementary and middle schools need an increased capacity of approximately 1,000 to 1,700 students during the next 10 years.
The committee spent a lot of time examining through this enrollment projection study, and concluded that it was their recommendation to stick with the high-end projections, due to the fact that school district is a sought out district and many homes in the area have occupants that currently do not have children in them and are aging. It is predicted that these homes will turn over to younger families and there will be continued capturing of additional students.
The second study that was examined at was the elementary and secondary capacity study by Wold Architects. This report showed how students are currently being served in the district’s facilities and how spaces are utilized. Through this report and input from administrators, the committee made projections on how facilities will be utilized when additional students join the district in the future.
Many elementary buildings in the district are nearly at 100 percent capacity, and there is some room for growth at the middle schools and high schools. Although, as more young students continue through the district, additional space will become necessary.
It is also believed that the additional students that will come from Rice Creek Commons will increase the need for more room in the district.
The committee also looked at current spaces of classrooms in the district’s buildings.
The physical size of many classrooms at Mounds View High School is too small to meet the standard capacity of students. Although, the committee did find that the staff is finding ways to take advantage of flexible spaces to meet instructional needs. The committee recommends adding more flexible spaces to all sites as the best approach to allow the district to address these issues into the future.
It was a goal of the committee to address instructional programming in the district’s facilities, ensuring that these spaces are able to meet 21st century needs of students. As the instructional model is updated, spaces need to be updated for collaborative learning classrooms.
Another issue that was discussed was the quality and condition of the district’s buildings.
In 1999, an $80 million bond referendum was approved to improve facilities from an educational, mechanical system and aesthetic standpoint. Since these improvements, there has been a 15-year gap since the district’s facilities have had a major upgrade.
Although the district continues to invest millions of dollars annually on facility upkeep, the school buildings are beginning to show their age. School buildings are also in use all year-round, unlike seasonal usage in the past.
There is also a need to update technology infrastructure to keep the schools up to date, from data lines to classroom projectors.
The committee will also discuss community and co-curricular spaces. Since the high school athletic facilities were built prior to Title IX, there is a need for more space for both boys and girls athletics. Fine arts, like band and orchestra, are also in need of gym spaces.
Safety and security was another key aspect that the committee will discuss. Current facilities have strong security measures, including camera systems, controlled access and visitor management, and the committee is receiving recommendations from consultants and law enforcement officials to strengthen security even further.
The facilities task force will continue to meet through February and will present a report of their findings to the school board in March.
Contact Sarah Burghardt at [email protected]