Alex school board approves bid seeking for DMS and Early Education building expansion projects

Alexandria schools approved a timeline for a Discovery Middle School gym expansion in an initiative to move away from leased agreements. If the timeline is followed, construction for a gymnastics center and a tumble room will begin in June.

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The Alexandria School Board approved advertising for bids for additions to the Discovery Middle School and Early Education Center buildings.

Alexandria schools currently have two lease agreements to use space in the Gymnastics Center and Douglas County Services Center. Alexandria’s gymnastics programs, community education and Shenanigans indoor children's playground use the buildings in the lease agreements.

Due to the uncertain future of those lease agreements, District 206 is looking to own its own facilities for those programs.

“We were fortunate to have a long-term lease agreement. Typically they are short-term,” Business director Trevor Peterson said at Monday’s meeting. “The programs we have are not going away. All of this is what forced us to look at our options.”

At the upcoming April meeting, the board hopes to decide on a bidder with construction planned to start in June.


The middle school addition includes a two-station gym to support the athletic and community needs along with a gymnastics center. The additions will also have a tumble room and flexible meeting spaces. The project is approximately 30,000 square feet, which will provide sufficient space to support the middle school physical education program. The projected cost is $8 million.

Some of the current problems with the gymnastics lease agreement include spectator access and the potential to host larger events. The middle school addition will add room for spectators while opening up future revenue opportunities.

The Early Education Center additions will include two classrooms for early childhood programming, flexible spaces for education, party rooms and an ample open space designed for the Shenanigans indoor playground.

The activity space will be connected to the Early Education Center close to the Community Education office. The projected cost is $3 million, with the anticipated completion coming at the end of 2021.

The funding for these projects will come from Certificates of Participation, a mechanism that allows districts to utilize lease levy authority to add to existing buildings. Additions cannot be larger than 20% of the building’s square footage. COPs will be funded like a bond and paid off in 15 years, starting in 2022.

Superintendent Rick Sansted stressed that owning is better than leasing, but wants to make sure that ownership comes in the most fiscally responsible way.

“It’s separate funds from the operating levy,” Sansted said. “Those dollars will continue to be used for learning and classroom instruction. These facility bonds will remain separate from that. A question that always comes up is what’s going to happen with the taxpayers? We estimate, for the average household, that it will be an extra $36 per year or $3 every month”


Other items of note

  • FFA students were approved for an extended field trip to the Twin Cities for the 2021 FFA convention, where they will participate in contests, workshops and receive awards. The FFA field trip understanding is that they can go if the current restrictions allow it. FFA students will conduct the annual spring and fall fruit sales to support student activities at state and national conventions.

  • The Alexandria dance team will host the Alexandria Cardinal Dance Team Winter Finale on March 6. Proceeds from ticket sales will pay for future dance-related expenses.

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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