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North Branch Schools

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October 19, 2018

8/17/2017 4:08:00 PM
NB School Board hears projects plan is advancing, public input sought

North Branch School Board last week got a surprisingly detailed update on the bond-vote projects,  only just approved by taxpayers in May.

The information was extensive, but lead architect Dan Moll, of ATS&R said input is still being gathered and he encouraged feedback on layouts, design aspects and other suggestions.  Moll said coaches were approached before they left for the summer break and their concerns and needs were noted.  ATS&R continues to meet with a committee of administration and staff.

North Branch is starting down a path of three phases in a $65 million effort, over three years,  to tackle long-delayed maintenance and systems needs, to reconfigure classrooms for efficiencies, to update the Family and Consumer Sciences and culinary course spaces, to address congestion at the middle and elementary schools, and add a gym/fitness center athletic facility while doing improvements including a structure for concessions-and-ticketing near the stadium.

The biggest sports-related project is the two station gymnasium and the need for developing plans that are sensitive of impacts to softball and tennis facilities.  The athletes’ fitness center being added also needs to afford public access.  The school board was advised the architects’ intention is to blend brick seamlessly into existing structure.

Moll said the new synthetic flooring in the gym project was given a thumbs-up by coaches.  By not using wood the district avoids costs of sanding and refinishing every few years, along with purchase and installation expenses, etc.

School Board member Tim MacMillan questioned if the floor meets state high school league standards, should the district host schools for large events.  He was assured there’s no issues with the flooring.  You can even take off the painting and replace it if uses change.

This new two-station gymnasium is a “multi-purpose” facility, Moll added.  The flooring is similar to what’s at the middle school, and future regional or state sports events would be in the existing competition gym, because it has the seating capacity.

Carrie Johnson, ATS&R interior design, shared some projects being done inside the buildings.

The middle school will get a new “student services” suite where the assistant principal will shift offices to, along with the school resource officer and therapeutic counseling staff (a partnership with a private sector counseling service) -- which will be in a quiet but easily accessed corner of the middle school.  Vehicle entry and exit patterns are being enhanced at the middle school with added turnlanes at the south access. Parking is being pushed into the stand of evergreen trees and a handful of stalls added, but only very slightly. Moll said the district is aware of the need to not take out trees.   School Board member Darryl Goebel said parking is a concern of his and suggested looking at removing more trees.  

Moll said the team is cognizant of the need for parking opportunities.

Extensive re-roofing needs are being addressed at the middle school too.

Johnson said over at the high school some educationally-innovative interior projects are planned, including a centralized “learning stairway.” The stairs will be regular height and depth on one half and the other side consists of wider, taller “steps” that can double as kind of a lyceum  space comfortable for sitting on and spreading out a laptop, materials,  etc.

New classroom configuration will create space for small groups of pupils working collectively or independently of a class.  

The  corral of lockers that confronts you at the main entry to the high school is being removed and lockers are going to be installed in a linear fashion on walls.

The site plan revisions and traffic flow at Sunrise River Elementary School are a work in progress.  Alot of movement must be jammed into a small space and the safety of the young students is the top concern.  At this time parking is proposed to be shifted into the center, greenspace is created elsewhere and new lanes for a safer through-pattern are planned, but ideas are still welcome.

Sunrise Elementary School has a dead end corridor alongside the cafeteria that is congested at times and this is to be redone.

Moll said there is no timeline finalized yet for specific work. The most-disruptive projects,  like heating and air ventilation handling,  obviously will be done when students are not in the building. (First day of school is Sept 5)  

Permits and other local government  review is on-going and there are multiple stormwater and wetland avoidance considerations affecting sites.  Moll said the district is adding roof space which generates more run-off and development in this vicinity already sheds considerable water.  The team has also been in touch with the city to make sure a new housing plat and school property nearby the middle school don’t end up causing land use or flooding problems for each other.
The Board adopted policy re-wording:  such as declaring that mandatory reporting now clearly includes knowledge of sex trafficking, added to neglect and sexual molestation.

The district will give priority to open enrollment lottery applicants whose parents  are staff (in addition to the current policy of priority for siblings of currently enrolled students.)  The lottery is used when space is an issue.

A student engaging in violent behavior will be removed from the classroom immediately.

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