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Brainerd School Board approves plan to put to voters - Nisswa School included in plan

After nearly three years of research, public input gathering, review and analysis, the Brainerd School Board finalized the plan it will present to voters on Tuesday, April 10. Nisswa Elementary School is in the Brainerd School District.

The school board is acting to address health, safety and educational adequacy needs in all of the district's schools. This plan, known as Blueprint 181, also addresses a need for additional space. Elementary schools are currently over-capacity and classroom, gym, lunchroom and other space needs will grow as enrollment increases by a projected 0.7 percent over the coming decade.

"This plan has been guided by the eight facilities planning objectives developed in collaboration with the community and informed by stakeholder input, independent analysis of our school buildings and guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Education," school board chair Bob Nystrom said. "School board members are unanimous in their support for the vision for Brainerd Public Schools laid out in the Blueprint 181 plan."

Highlights of the plan include:

• Construction of a new elementary school to replace the current Baxter Elementary School.

• Repurposing of the current Baxter Elementary School building to meet growing demand for early childhood programs.

• Renovation and expansion at Garfield, Harrison, Lowell, Nisswa and Riverside schools to address growing enrollment, educational adequacy needs and safety and security concerns.

• Renovation of Washington Educational Services Building or Early Childhood, Fun 'N' Friends and administrative offices.

• Renovation and expansion of the current Brainerd High School North Campus to house grades 9-12, with updated pool and activities space.

• Repurposing the current Brainerd High School South Campus for current Lincoln Education Center and Transitions programs.

• Renovation of Brainerd Learning Center to house expanded alternative programs for middle and high school students.

• Improving parent and bus drop-off/pick- up areas and safety and security at Forestview Middle School.

• Construction of a new performing arts center.

Questions one and two on the April ballot will address necessary health, safety and educational adequacy improvements at the early childhood, elementary and secondary school buildings. Question two must be passed in order for ballot question three, regarding a new performing arts center, to pass.

The school board is expected to formally call for the election and officially approve the language and dollar amounts of the ballot questions at its Monday, Jan. 8, regular meeting.

The tax impact for the owner of an average district home valued at $156,200 would be $7 per month if all three ballot questions pass.

"The board of education and school district leaders listened to what the community said was needed in our schools to prepare our children for the world and the workforce of tomorrow," Superintendent Laine Larson said. "Our community has a strong connection to our schools and a strong commitment to ensuring our students reach their full potential and grow up to become good citizens."

Community input was gathered through eight community listening sessions, more than 25 school district staff listening sessions, more than 100 presentations to local community groups, and through nearly 1,800 responses to phone and online surveys this fall.

The next step for the board of education is to finalize a detailed plan document called the review and comment and submit that required document to the Minnesota Department of Education by Jan. 10.

Community members can offer comments, ask questions and find information about Blueprint 181 by visiting www.blueprint181.org, emailing blueprint181@isd181.org or by calling 218-454- 6900.

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