(Alexandria, MN) At its meeting Monday, February 22, the Alexandria School Board unanimously approved advertising for bids on the Discovery Middle School and Early Education Center additions which would replace current leased spaces for the district’s gymnastics center, as well as the county gyms for community education/youth and adult recreation. The future of these lease agreements is uncertain and thus the need for the district to identify facility solutions.

The Board recognizes the desirability of having the district’s school facilities used as much as possible by community groups to promote educational, recreational, cultural and civic activities of the community. Further, the Board has a long-term goal to reduce reliance on leased space and move toward owning the facilities for district programs.

Since January, the district has been working with JLG Architects through the Schematic Design Phase on both additions while engaging in a community input process involving district advisory councils, community members, coaches, youth and adult recreation user groups. As community members and stakeholders, the district wants to make sure that constituents are informed of the decisions and projects being conducted as future investments of the school district. A Facilities Update flyer including architect exterior designs, site plans, and floor plans can be viewed here.

The Discovery Middle School addition includes a two-station gym to support educational, athletic and community needs as well as a dedicated Gymnastics Center with tumble room, and flexible meeting spaces. Project details include:

  • Approximately 30,000 sq ft addition.
  • Provides sufficient space to support middle school physical education curriculum; Alexandria Community Education youth/adult recreation programming.
  • Elimination of Gymnastics & County Leases.
  • Fixed bleachers for 272 spectators.
  • Offers the potential to host larger youth athletic tournaments resulting in increased facility rental opportunities and tourism revenue to our community.
  • Projected cost: $8 million.
  • Anticipated completion early winter (prior to high school gymnastics season opener).

The Early Education Center addition includes a two-classroom addition for early childhood programming, flexible spaces for education, party rooms, and a large open space designed for the current Shenanigans indoor playground. Project details are:

  • Replaces Douglas County gymnasium space and eliminates lease obligation.
  • 9539 sq ft designed to meet student, parent and community needs.
  • Addition would add activity space plus 2 classrooms.
  • Activity space would be connected to the EEC and in close proximity to the Community Education office.
  • Additional classrooms help meet community needs for early education programming.
  • Projected cost: $3 million.
  • Anticipated completion end of calendar year.

Superintendent of Alexandria Public Schools, Rick Sansted, talks with VOA's Joe Korkowski about the proposed additions (AUDIO BELOW):

The scope of the projects is estimated to be around $11 million. Certificates of Participation (COPs) is a funding mechanism that allows school districts to utilize lease levy authority for the addition to existing district buildings to expand educational programming. Additions must be attached to existing buildings and may not exceed 20% of the total square footage of the existing structure. COPs would be funded exactly like a bond and paid off in 15 years, starting in Payable 2022.

The action by the Board to approve advertising for bids will initiate the construction documents phase of the planning. The district is hopeful for a competitive bidding environment. Action is expected at the regular board meeting on April 19 to approve the winning bid or reject all bids. If bids are approved in April construction would begin in June.