Proposed Pequot Lakes school facility improvements could total estimated $80 million

Preliminary discussions - with no action taken - include parking, new auditorium, relocating high school office

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Pequot Lakes School.
PineandLakes Echo Journal file photo

PEQUOT LAKES — The Pequot Lakes School Board has its eye on the future, looking at a number of potential changes to improve the district.

The board gathered for a special meeting Tuesday, March 14, and were joined by Superintendent Kurt Stumpf, the district’s three principals, Business Manager Heidi Hagen, Activities Director Byron Westrich, Community Education Director Joell Tvedt, Food Service Director Patty Buell, and Buildings and Grounds Manager Mike Renford.

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The group took in a presentation from Eric Anderson, of ATSR in Minneapolis, regarding proposed site improvement plans throughout the school district.

Prominent among proposed site improvements is an overhaul of parking lots at the middle and high school campus — an issue plaguing the district for several years. Proposals include leveling the former Echo Journal building on West Lake Street, which the district bought in 2020, for additional parking space, as well as revamping the current parking lot east of the school to maximize space.

School bus pickup and drop-off would move behind the middle school.


Another potential change would be construction of a new 750-seat auditorium off the northeast corner of the athletic center. Were this to be constructed, the current auditorium would be repurposed into a common space.

Additionally, the high school administrative office and main access point would relocate to this area.

“If you are looking at the building, especially as a visitor, that is where you are inclined to go,” Anderson said. “Your eye kind of leads you over in that direction. I know that there have been some issues with students who come in those doors anyway during the school day when they should be coming back (to the main entrance), but at any rate, we could create a new entry and lobby space with connection to the commons, the auditorium and to your athletics.”

Other proposed improvements include an off-site baseball/softball complex, resurfacing the track and football field, more secure entrances to the building and locker room remodeling, among other things.

Were all of these improvements to be approved, the total cost would be roughly $84 million, but ATSR sectioned projects out in “priorities” to alleviate upfront costs. Costs have been projected out to May 2024.

Board members had questions regarding how these potential changes account for growth, as many school facilities are near capacity. Anderson assured the board that demographers accounted for growth.

Board member Kim Bolz-Andolshek said she wanted to make sure that before any timelines are set and costly decisions are made, the district needs to reach out to the taxpayers in the area, particularly those with no real ties to Pequot Lakes schools.

“We typically talk to the people that are connected to the schools — it is the nature of the beast — but we have a lot of people who live here that do not have children,” Bolz-Andolshek said. “The minute this board votes for a tax increase, there will be a lot more interest … people might be aware, but I don’t think I was aware until three or four months ago that we were looking at possibly building. To be fair, we have a lot of taxpayers who probably are not aware that we are considering this.”


The district's last major renovation came in 2012, when $33 million was spent on a project that included additions to the fifth grade wing, new media center, science wing with labs and classrooms, physical education building, district and high school office and addition at the Eagle View Elementary School early childhood development.

Dan Determan, sports writer/staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5879 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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