With ideas ranging from additional classrooms to a makerspace, career tech expansion and a softball complex on the short and long-term projects list, the Perham-Dent School Board plans to focus on facilities needs.
All of the ideas are just that, ideas but some of the projects will come up within the next few years. The school board hopes to work with a consulting agency to prioritize the list, create a plan for these projects and continuous school maintenance projects over the next 10 years, do a demography study on the number of students and understand the costs. The list includes 19 projects with more always being added.
“There’s just constantly questions about what our facilities needs are and future plans,” said Superintendent Mitch Anderson.
The projects could be paid for through the capital outlay, reserved fund balance, general or long-term facilities maintenance funds along with donations and the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.
Here are some of the districtwide needs.
Additional classrooms: The Heart of the Lakes Elementary and Prairie Wind Middle Schools are in need of more classrooms and meeting spaces. The middle school would like to add a classroom per grade level. Both schools have an increase in enrollment. With more programming such as special education and the aim of smaller class sizes, the spaces are filled, as Anderson and high school Principal Ehren Zimmerman said. The high school is built for a capacity of 650 students.
Front entry remodel: The middle school front entrance could be arranged for visitors to go directly to the front office. This would help with security instead of people being able to easily enter the building after being buzzed in, according to principal Scott Bjerke.
Career Tech Center expansion: The area could include spaces for business, information technology and possibly art as well as more room for the Area Learning Center.
Maintenance shed: More indoor storage is needed as the district acquires more maintenance equipment and no longer has the shop spaces at the old high school, as buildings manager Russ Winkels and Anderson said. They use the shed by Matt’s Field, which also includes items like school vehicles and lawn mowers.
Tennis courts: The tennis courts were last redone four years ago and have 509 feet of new cracking. This might be due to an incorrectly laid base. Activities director Erin Anderson said the court is not in disrepair. There are eight courts.
Indoor batting cage: The district hopes to get an additional batting cage due to the “high demand,” as Anderson said. There is one at the elementary school. The teams also use the batting cages at the Perham Area Community Center. Scheduling is one of the main issues.
“It’s a monster list actually and everything on there’s really important and I think it’s important that we be looking past today, tomorrow or … next school year,” said Sue Von Ruden, school board member. “This stuff isn’t really going to go away, this is always going to be important things that we need to be looking at and doing something about.”
The district will have ongoing discussions on the needs.