On Nov. 3, 2015, voters in the Forest Lake Area school district approved $143 million in bond funding to make facility improvements all across the district. This is not only a positive outcome for the students and staff at Forest Lake Area Schools, but also for the hundreds of parents, business owners and concerned citizens who freely gave up time and resources to help accomplish this goal for our schools.
This bond proposal goes far beyond the most recent election and campaign. For more than a decade, citizen groups have been working with us to sort out and solve facility maintenance challenges throughout the district.
These hard-working friends and neighbors understood right away that the needs weren’t going to go away, and they wouldn’t get any cheaper to address. We started with a gap-analysis team and then moved to a facility needs task force, who toured each building in the district and created an overall plan to address facility needs.
The bond proposal that was ultimately approved was the culmination of work and effort from those committees and other citizen groups.
And the work doesn’t stop there. Approval of this bond plan kicks off a four to five year design-and-build process - which we are calling the "Reshaping Opportunities for Success 2015-2020" project - that will ultimately improve every building in the district.
Although preliminary plans were created prior to the election, they don’t contain nearly enough of the detail needed for construction. In the next few months district staff, architects and construction managers will finalize the design and create plan drawings for everything from plumbing to electrical.
After that, we’ll go through a bid process to select contractors for each part of the job and we’ll complete the pre-construction planning with those contractors.
Construction on the new 7-12th grade campus at the high school and current Century Junior High building will begin in the spring of 2017. Those improvements are expected to be completed in time for all secondary students to begin the 2018-2019 school year at the new combined campus.
Construction in the elementary schools will begin in phases, depending on the complexity of the work needed. All elementary school upgrades are scheduled to be completed by the 2019-2020 school year.
Programs currently housed in the CLC will continue to operate there until construction can be completed at the building currently known as Southwest Junior High. Programs at the CLC will move to their newly refurbished space at the Southwest location in the fall of 2019.
There are many details still to be determined, and I’m certain that many people will have questions as the work proceeds. As always, our most current information will be posted on this website. We will also provide updates as needed via newsletters and other communication vehicles.
Those of us who work in the district are very eager to begin this important project, and we are excited about the support for student achievement that "Reshaping Opportunities for Success 2015-2020" will provide.
Steve Massey, Ed.D. Superintendent of Forest Lake Area Schools