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Chisago Lakes Schools

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October 20, 2019

5/23/2019 3:31:00 PM
North Branch projects on-schedule, taking shape

It’s nearing time for what the Kraus Anderson construction management team,  overseeing things at North Branch School District work sites, calls summer slam. And they’re not  referring to the wrestling arena event.  

The day after the last day of school is when contractors will dive in with the super messy, noisy, debilitating demolition and reconstruction tasks that have had to wait until classes are over.  

“June third we hit it non-stop,” explained Dale Sonnichen, Kraus Anderson project manager.  

Holes will be cut into walls in the high school for extracting oversized obsolete boilers. Behemoth concrete stairs will be jack-hammered out, to make classroom space.  

North Branch Building & Grounds supervisor Art Tobin already has administrative staff who are officed in the Education Center,  packing personal items into boxes preparing to relocate. There’s a new look planned for the Education Center as it’s reconfigured and expanded southward to house a growing pre-school and kindergarten program by next fall.

Tobin, though, becomes most animated when the tour gets to the HVAC systems updates the referendum money made happen.   Sunrise School  ventilation and air handling is improved and more efficient,  with new equipment. There’s an interface called Trane Ensemble installed that consolidates system operations.  
Tobin said every upgrade being done is aimed at making an efficient, comfortable environment.

Then, there’s the more mundane projects like sidewalk replacement, which means at  Sunrise Elementary 800 linear feet of chipped, cracked and gappy concrete is to be replaced. Sunrise is also getting a new vestibule area, to enhance building access security.

And then,  there’s the new furnishings already in use.  

Sunrise Elementary teacher, Janelle Korkowski, said her kids eagerly get involved in frequent classroom layout changes.  They like being able to roll new lightweight tables and chairs and see how they piece together. Korkowski said the furnishings afford  “flexibility in arrangements” and even the physical design of new furnishings seems to be motivating learners too.

Over at the high school the newly remodeled areas are interspersed with existing high school spaces. Group learning spaces allow for breakout discussion and project work.   The sports teams have a room of their own to meet in, to view film and use for a homebase.  

Junior ROTC has it own room now as well.  Again furnishings in these spaces is new and flexible.

The new high school culinary course area is in use. It sports a deep fryer, convection and double ovens, a walk-in cooler, industrial mixer, dishwashing room, etc.  The instructor on the day the press visited was guiding students making Greek salad.  The class delves into a culture, and the lesson involves making a food relevant to that day’s topic, she said.

North Branch also has a professional level cooking course Pro-Start, where the lessons are coordinated with a chef from Grand Casino.

The Edelstein Auditorium is completely refreshed.  New seats in the theatre, benches in the lobby The new stage is beautiful, there’s new lighting, new electronics in the control booth and fresh paint everywhere.

North Branch District Communications and Grant Writer Patrick Tepoorten,  mentioned that public spaces, such as this auditorum, were given lots of attention when projects were advanced by vote of the residents.  From the new backstops at the ballfield at Sunrise Elementary,  to the public gym space at the high school,  “As much as we could, we kept the community at-large in mind,” he stated.

The stadium/concession building bathrooms are even going to be accessible to the public, so that when the new Community Veterans’ Memorial gets built near the football field, there will be restrooms available.  (Local veterans continue to fundraise for this memorial site, contact the North Branch Legion for information on contributing.)

The North Branch Middle School is due for decor and functionality improvements. There is an underground tank being removed, with new roofing this summer.  The middle school has had new water heaters and mechanical systems installed.

The specifically designed area in the middle school for Therapeutic Services Agency,  to provide mental health services,   is something staff and community members look forward to, said Tepoorten.   TSA had been situated at the education center.

Projects are being completed over three-years.  Among those slated for year three will be re-doing the industrial arts area at the high school.

The district welcomes the public to take a tour, but not until next fall.  September 6, prior to the football game, is the tentative date for an open house.  Public tours, a shuttle bus from building to building and food trucks are being organized.

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