As summer ends, construction season continues for Mounds View Public Schools


As part of a $25 million expansion at Irondale High School, the district is building a new 650-seat auditorium off the school’s south entrance. (graphic courtesy of Wold Architects/Mounds View Public School District)

Irondale High School’s parking lot, located off of Long Lake Road in New Brighton, has been undergoing underground utility work this summer but will be repaved the week of Aug. 26, according to district officials. A multiyear expansion at Irondale will continue throughout the school year and is expected to be mostly complete by fall 2020. (photo: Bridget Kranz)

Construction crews from Kraus-Anderson have already begun digging the foundation for an addition off the north end of Edgewood Middle School, which will house a second gym and a new pool, the latter of which will be shared with Irondale High School. (photo: Bridget Kranz)

As part of district-wide expansions, Mounds View High School will be getting a new four-station field house as well as two new classroom wings (marked in blue), each totaling more than 10,000 square feet. (graphic courtesy of Wold Architects/Mounds View Public School District)

Majority of work to be complete by fall 2020

Bridget Kranz
staff writer 

 

Students in the Mounds View Public School District may notice a few changes as they arrive back from summer vacation on Sept. 3. 

Phase two of a multiyear construction project started throughout the district this past spring, with the three largest expansions taking place at Irondale High School, Mounds View High School and Edgewood Middle School.

For each project the majority of work is anticipated to be complete by fall 2020, with some additional construction the following summer. 

That means construction will continue throughout the upcoming school year at those three main sites, as well as at Bel Air, Island Lake and Turtle Lake elementary schools. 

A two-classroom addition and renovations at Island Lake are on track to be completed this fall. A two-classroom addition at Bel Air and an eight-classroom addition at Turtle Lake, in addition to renovations at both, are likely to continue through the first half of 2020. 

As Labor Day nears, district staff members are focused on completing certain aspects of each project and getting construction areas properly blocked off in time for students’ return. 

Assistant Superintendent Jeffery Ridlehoover said the district will be working with its construction partner, Kraus-Anderson, to put up temporary walls and fencing to help ensure students’ safety. 

According to Ridlehoover, expansions and renovations throughout the district are aimed at accommodating a steadily growing student population. District enrollment has grown by more than 1,500 students since 2010, bringing the total number to just over 11,000. 

After working with both a demographer and community task force, the district came up with a list of recommendations for each school based on its projected growth; a $165 million bond referendum to finance the projects was approved by 75% of district voters in 2017.

Ahead of the return of students to school, here is a list of what may look different and what is up next for the district’s three largest projects at Irondale, MVHS and Edgewood. 

 

Irondale High School
Residents who have driven by Irondale recently may have noticed work going on in the school’s main parking lot, just south of the building off Long Lake Road in New Brighton. 

MVHS Associate Principal Michael Schwartz serves as construction liaison for both high schools. He said that parking at Irondale would be one of the biggest issues this fall. 

“We’ve got a plan in place to accommodate as many people as we can,” he said. A new, smaller lot at the north end of the building has been paved and will be ready for students by September. 

Ongoing utility work in the main lot at the building’s south end should be wrapped up the week of Aug. 19. According to Schwartz, that lot will be repaved the week of Aug. 26. 

Still, Ridlehoover said there will be an overall reduction in parking, as part of the main lot continues to be used for construction staging throughout the year. 

“There are plans for the administration to get creative with parking permits and asking kids to carpool,” Ridlehoover explained. “By the time the construction project is completed, there will be more parking spots than when the project started.”

As part of the $25 million expansion, Irondale will be getting a new 650-seat auditorium, built off its south entrance. According to Schwartz, it should be finished by October 2020. 

This school year, students will be able to use two additional classrooms built in the former media center, as well as a three-classroom wing built off the west side of the building, expected to be ready for use this October. 

Three more classrooms, as well as renovated hallways and a new fitness center in the former pool space, are also part of the multi-year project. The current Irondale pool will remain in use until a new pool is constructed at Edgewood. The two schools will share the new facility.

Edgewood Associate Principal Xavier Reed estimated that the new pool would be complete by fall 2020. 

“Most school districts will have one really nice, competitive pool,” explained Ridlehoover, saying that closing the Irondale pool will save the district money on maintenance. 

 

Mounds View High School
One of the major add-ons at Mounds View High School in Arden Hills will be a new four-station field house off the south end of the building, complete with an elevated track. 

According to Ridlehoover, a community task force worked to look at population projections and school-specific needs in coming up with its list of recommended renovations.

After the bond referendum passed, each school had a design committee made up of parents, students, staff and community members that worked with the district’s partners — Wold Architects and Kraus-Anderson — to shape plans for each site. 

In addition to the field house, MVHS will be getting seven new classrooms, additional renovated rooms and a renovated commons area as part of the $40 million project. 

Schwartz estimated that two of the new classrooms would be ready for students by Sept. 3, and that the new commons area would be finished by December. 

The field house should be complete next summer, and two new classroom wings off either side of the building — both bigger than 10,000 square feet — should be finished this spring.   

According to the district, Mounds View High School’s enrollment increased from 1,750 students in 2010 to about 1,800 this past school year. Irondale’s student population grew from around 1,600 to 1,800 in that same timeframe. 

 

Edgewood Middle School
One of the biggest changes that students and families may notice at Edgewood this fall is a reconfigured pick-up and drop-off area. 

According to Reed, the Mounds View middle school’s back parking lot has been renovated to accommodate heavy bus traffic. All general education bussing will now pick up and drop off at the rear entrance, leaving the front less congested for family pickup and dropoff, as well as special education bussing. 

Edgewood remains the smallest middle school in the district, growing from 560 students in 2010 to 660 students this past school year. 

According to Ridlehoover, the size of the project at Edgewood has a lot to do with the school’s co-curricular needs and includes a second gym and the new pool.

Ridlehoover said the district does not anticipate making any changes to its schools’ enrollment boundaries, a question that he said has come up in light of current projects. 

“Based on the demographer’s study, we believe we’re adding the correct capacity to each building,” he said. 

The new gym and pool are both part of an addition, built off Edgewood’s north end. Reed said he anticipated that the gym could be ready for students as early as next spring, and that the pool would likely be complete by fall 2020. Edgewood’s current pool will be kept in use until the addition is complete. 

So far, Reed said his construction experience has been positive, noting that Kraus-Anderson has been flexible and communicative throughout the summer. 

The projects have required some flexibility on the district’s part as well, and Ridlehoover said the school district was able to move summer programming around without having to cap enrollment. 

“I’m really proud of the work that’s been done with our students and staff to get ready,” he said. “We’re incredibly appreciative of the community for allowing us to move forward with this.”

 

Next steps
The third and final phase of bond-financed construction will begin this spring. It includes classroom additions at Pinewood, Sunnyside and Valentine Hills elementary schools, as well as a secured front entrance and renovated commons area at Chippewa Middle School. 

Irondale and MVHS are also getting secured entrances as part of their renovations, where visitors will need to be buzzed into the building; Edgewood’s entry is already secured, according to Reed. Similar to Edgewood, Pinewood will also be getting separated bus and family drop-off areas.

Phase three of construction is expected to take place throughout next summer and finish in fall 2020. Renovations at Highview Middle School and Pike Lake Education Center have already been completed.

– Bridget Kranz can be reached at bkranz@lillienews.com or 651-748-7825.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here