A lot of progress has been made since the Faribault School Board approved construction of an early childhood addition to Roosevelt Elementary a year ago next week.
The building, now rising from the soil below, is on track for a February 2022 completion. Classes are expected to begin next fall.
Construction began this spring, and overall the project has been moving along smoothly, with only minor bumps in the road, said district Buildings and Grounds Director Kain Smith.
Though the interior renovation was ahead of schedule, Smith says the actual addition part is a bit behind. After learning its steel manufacturer unexpectedly went out of business, Smith says the problem worked itself out, and Met-Con was able to take over.
The delay was very minimal (pushing it just one month back), compared to what it could have been. Outside of the steel issue, Smith feels fortunate that things have gone well so far and they’ve not come across any shortages in materials other projects have run into because of COVID.
An easier transition
The project will allow for the transition of McKinley Early Childhood into the new classrooms in 2022 and support the Early Childhood Department’s need for more space, expanded programming and a cohesive building to improved students’ transition to elementary school.
Prior to the board’s approval, Early Childhood Executive Director Olivia Sage shared ways the project would support the vision and mission of McKinley Early Childhood Center by providing high-quality early childhood education to all families in collaboration with the community’s early childhood partners. The addition would also allow McKinley to better fulfill its mission to provide support, encouragement and education to families.
It will represent an increase in square footage for the program, though not an increase in the number of classrooms. A fenced playground will be installed around the expansion, along with other landscaping. It will not include additional parking, as existing on-site parking is already sufficient to meet the requirements laid out in the city ordinances.
Sage explained how moving early childhood education to Roosevelt correlates with the McKinley strategic plan pillars of family and community engagement, student-centered learning, equity, mental health and safety, and school climate. Having one, cohesive building supporting early childhood through fifth-grade students will support the work of building upon relationships within home schools, she said. The multi-grade structure will allow for more partnerships with older students and provide continuity in the effort to have students well-read by third grade.
The additional space that comes with the project will increase opportunities for programming designed to help students socially and emotionally. Roosevelt will continue to share resources with the other elementary schools, Jefferson and Lincoln. Sage said one benefit being considered is access to a social worker.
The early childhood projects can be funded through a lease levy authority, and the school district can authorize a certificate of participation, which allows investors to be a part of the project. The district would then own the ground it was built on and pay off the lease with annual payments of $250,000 for 20 years. As a result, the tax impact would be $250,000 a year — an additional $12 per year to the average Faribault homeowner.
Last November, the board approved the issuance of $3.8 million Certificates of Participation, essentially is a 20-year lease agreement. The estimate of the true interest cost was 2.62%, so the district will spend about $182,000 less, $9,000 annually.
Early this January, the 6,500 square-foot expansion was brought to the Faribault Planning Commission since the area is zoned residential. A similar conditional use permit, issued in 1995, allowed for the construction of the school itself. In the end, the Planning Commission endorsed the $3.8 million project’s design with little concern, or discussion.