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Vicki Gerdes, Published December 22 2013

Lake-Park Audubon considering $4.5M elementary school addition

LAKE PARK, Minn. – School officials here got a first glance last week at a $4.5 million addition to the district’s elementary school in Audubon.

The project is driven by a projected increase in enrollment and comes after the school just finished a round of new construction and renovation, including an addition and extensive renovation of the elementary school in 2011 that cost $3.5 million.

The preliminary plans for a proposed 22,000-squarefoot Early Learning Center addition were unveiled at a Lake-Park Audubon School Board meeting Dec. 17.

Brian Berg of Zerr-Berg Architects rolled out plans that included a 22,740-square- foot addition to the north of the existing elementary building, and renovation of 5,350 square feet of space inside the current facility.

In addition, a second playground would be added, and the current elementary playground would be relocated to the opposite side of the building.

A total of four kindergarten and five early-childhood classrooms would be built, along with a Head Start classroom.

Because of Minnesota Department of Education guidelines, the kindergarten rooms would each include 1,200 square feet of space, while the Early Childhood and Head Start classrooms would be 1,100 square feet each, Berg said.

The addition would also include an administrative office, lobby area, commons, activity area, mechanical room and storage.

Plans for the Early Learning Center have been on the board’s radar since last spring, when projected enrollment numbers in the district’s early-childhood, preschool and K-6 education programs indicated classroom space would soon be severely limited.

Construction of the addition would also allow five classrooms in the existing building to be freed up for other uses, though Superintendent Dale Hogie noted that the extra classrooms are not projected to be necessary until the 2015-16 school year. The need for additional music and special education space is more immediate.

Hogie also said the board would need to schedule a work session sometime in January to begin taking a more in-depth look at the Early Learning Center plans, and prepare them for submission to the state for review and comment.

In addition to a renovation of the elementary school in 2011, LP-A also opened a new $17.5 million high school in 2012. After six attempts, voters in 2010 approved the bond issue to pay for the new high school.