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B-E residents asked to fill out survey

Conceptual floor plans, operational and transportation costs and more were discussed Monday evening at the Brandon-Evansville School Board work session.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Superintendent Don Peschel said a solutions committee, made up of school administrators, board members and staff, along with consultants from ICS Consulting, discussed potential combinations of conceptual floor plans for both buildings.

It has not yet been determined whether the district will try again for a referendum to build a new school or whether they will remodel one or both of the schools. The district is still in its information-gathering stage.

As part of its continued efforts to collect information and public input, Peschel said the district is asking residents to fill out a survey with questions related to the condition of the schools, grade configuration, tax impact and more.

The online survey will be open through Sunday, March 24, and can be found online at www.bechargersunited.com.

Hard copies will be available at the school upon request. Residents who do not have internet access can contact Peschel at (320) 834-4084 for assistance in completing the survey.

Operational costs

There are three factors in comparing operation costs — energy costs, transportation costs and resources costs.

The current facilities do not accurately represent the energy costs of a typical school due to the outdated mechanical and electrical systems, the ICS consultants noted in their presentation. To assess energy costs, updated mechanical and electrical systems that provide code compliant ventilation and air conditioning/dehumidification would have to be reviewed.

The total combined square footage for the Brandon and Evansville campuses is 144,500 square feet. In Minnesota, utilities for K-12 schools can range between $1 and $1.50 per square foot, according to ICS. With code compliant systems and dehumidification, the estimated utility costs for both buildings should be between $144,500 and $216,750.

ICS compared that amount to a single K-12 facility with 120,000 square feet, which is the estimated size based on enrollment projections and Minnesota Department of Education guidelines for construction. With code compliant systems and dehumidification, the estimated utility cost would be between $120,000 and $180,000.

Information regarding the cost of maintaining one versus two heating plants will be brought forward at one of the next work sessions.

The district reported transportation costs for 2017-18 were about $66,000, which included staff traveling between the two schools, shuttles and transportation for athletic practices.

Options for Evansville

A unique situation with the Evansville campus, said Peschel, is that the city owns a large portion of the land and building.

"We are continuing to work and collaborate with the city," he said, adding that the district and the city will need to come up with a feasible solution.

If Evansville housed pre-K through grade 5, possible options could be: tear down the 1917 portion of the building; add an addition into the parking lot on the south side; add a cafeteria and kitchen by the stage area; use the current main hallway for Early Childhood Family Education, Head Start and daycare; and provide parking on the east side on a slope.

If Evansville housed grades 6-12, a couple of different scenarios were discussed.

In the first, options included: keeping the current gym space but adding a locker room to the south and adding another gym that would be regulation size; renovating an area in the 1954 portion for the senior center; and on the second level, adding two learning communities with possibly a middle school zone and high school zone.

In the second scenario, the options included: adding a gym on the east side of the current gym with locker rooms between; putting administration to the south with a commons area; adding a fitness center where the current computer lab is; and relocating the senior center to the current library with street access.

Options for Brandon

A few issues were discussed, which included parking, bus drop-off and pick-up, and secure entrances.

If the Brandon school housed pre-K through fifth grade, options included: putting the parking where the baseball field is behind the school and creating a loop for dropping off students; enlarging the cafeteria by taking over part of the art room; moving the main office to the early childhood area for secure entrance; and making some hallways into flex rooms and art rooms.

Options for Brandon if it housed grades 6-12 included: expanding the kitchen and lunchroom into the art room; moving the office to the ag/shop area for secure entrance; adding an additional gym, band room and lockers; expanding science rooms from the current area to third-grade rooms; and turning the existing office into space for support staff, speech, counselors, teacher workroom and other uses.

Peschel said the next step is to keep gathering information so that actual floor plans could be mapped out.

"We will continue to do research and continue to share the data," he said.

Four more work sessions have been scheduled:

• Monday, March 18 at 6 p.m. in the Brandon School. There will be a walk-through of the building. The regular board meeting will follow the work session.

• Monday, April 1 at 6 p.m. at the Evansville Senior Center. Results from the survey will be shared at this meeting.

• Monday, April 15 at 6 p.m. at the Evansville Senior Center.

• Monday, April 29 at 6 p.m. at the Evansville Senior Center.

For more information, visit the dedicated website at www.bechargersunited.com.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

(320) 763-1242
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