By Amy Johnson
Paul Youngquist from Architects Rego and Youngquist (ARY) presented the preliminary facility improvement plan at a special Dassel Cokato school board meeting Monday.
The presentation provided an overview of several major areas of improvement, including the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department, the Alternative Learning Center (ALC), the high school administration department, the music department, and the recreation facility. The estimated cost for the proposed improvements totals $30,354,100. Youngquist explained that these proposed improvements can be prioritized and implemented over several years.
Career and Technical Education remodel
The CTE update includes an 8,664-square-foot addition that includes a new agriculture shop, additional storage areas, a new finishing area, and expansion of the wood and metal shops. The plan also includes a classroom remodel and upgrades to the electrical and mechanical infrastructure.
Alternative Learning Center (ALC) addition
The new ALC includes a 6,720-square-foot addition on the west end of the existing school. The ALC will have four classrooms, four 8-by-8-foot study rooms, a larger group study area, conference room, workroom, office and restrooms. The addition also includes a kitchen, as food preparation is part of the life skills program.
HS administration addition and remodel
The remodel plan for the high school administration area includes a 4,320-square-foot addition on the south side of the building, and will provide a secure entrance.
A new lobby area with multiple windows will allow office staff to easily view the doors and keep track of who is entering the building. If they see someone suspicious, they can push a button that will lock the doors, effectively isolating the person in the entrance with the only way out being by exiting the building.
This south entrance expansion will also include an area where students can sit while awaiting parent pickup.
Music department addition
The music department update adds 10,512 square feet of new space, including a middle school choir room, high school choir room, robe and music storage, high school band room, and uniform and marching band storage. There will also be several ensemble and practice rooms, along with staff office space.
A second middle school tech room is also included in this new addition.
Recreation center addition
The recreation center update would add 29,460 square feet on the east side of the existing facility. This new area includes a gymnastics room, multi-use activity room, four locker rooms and restrooms on the main level.
The second level will have an indoor walking track and three 32-by-40-foot viewing and community rooms. These rooms will have windows facing the existing arena to allow for event viewing, and will be available for community use on a reservation basis.
New concession booth and school store
A new concession area and school store will be added to the east of the high school office. The existing music room will be converted to a business classroom. There will also be a wide corridor leading to the career center and counselor office area; an open study area, two small study rooms, and a group study room.
“The design is an evolutionary process. Once you touch an area, a lot more work is needed,” Youngquist stated. He went on to explain that during a remodel, additional work is always needed, including refinishing floors, replacing ductwork, and more.
Board Chair Bill Aho said he likes the initial concept, noting that it aligns with the district’s mission “to provide 21st century education facilities and recreation spaces to support them.”
Board Member Kathy Grochow said she sees the facility upgrade as an “opportunity to create an innovative educational environment.”
Superintendent Jeff Powers noted that he likes the overall concept because it appears to be well thought out and not a hodgepodge. He went on to say, “If we are not moving forward, we are moving backwards. We need to make the facility better for our students.”
Several board members noted that some needed improvements were missing from the proposal, including an additional middle school classroom and a refrigeration system for the arena. Youngquist noted the omissions and assured the board that they would be included in the next update.
In addition to these major improvement projects, the proposed plan also includes estimated costs for:
• middle school technical education expansion;
• secure entry for the high school, middle school, and Dassel and Cokato elementary schools;
• remodeling business classrooms, concessions, store, and counseling offices;
• repurpose the north mezzanine at the original gym;
• moving the greenhouse;
• adding a new fire pump;
• adding a fire suppression system to the middle school;
• pool repair;
• remodeling media center for collaborative learning;
• constructing a new drive from Highway 12 and adjusting ball fields; and
• rebuilding and expanding the student parking lot.
The proposed improvement plan will be put into a more formal format to be presented to the public for review and comment. Aho stated the board plans to have a detailed rendition ready for fall. Youngquist added that the next proposal will include more graphics so the voters can really understand what is going on. The goal is to have the bond issue on the November ballot.