As students prepare for a new school year, three buildings in the Faribault district are about to undergo their own adjustments to make the buildings more safe and secure.

In the next couple weeks, Mohs Construction, Inc., of Owatonna, begins remodeling projects at Faribault High School, Jefferson Elementary and Lincoln Elementary to improve entrances at each school building.

These projects are made possible by school safety grants the Minnesota State Department of Education awarded to the three Faribault schools. Another 117 others across the state also received grants last October. Based on the cost per square footing to complete the remodeling projects, each school received a different amount. That now totals $1.1 million for the Faribault district. 

"We’re very excited for this project," said interim Superintendent Todd Sesker. "It will really be a welcome project, especially to Lincoln and Jefferson."

Staff members at each building met with architects to share input on creating safer, more secure entrances. According to Sesker, the two elementary school buildings will undergo more drastic changes than the high school.

“The main thing at elementary schools would be parents, or anyone that would like to come into Jefferson or Lincoln, will now go through the main entrance before going into any of the academic hallways,” said Sesker.

In the past, staff at these buildings has noted problems with visitors neglecting to check in at the office before venturing down the halls, which proposed safety concerns.

Once the remodeling project at FHS is complete, a security person will check in visitors inside the new entrance before allowing them into the high school. A security officer began checking in guests at the door last year, but after the construction, the check-in spot will be enclosed.

Sesker said the projects at FHS and Lincoln will cause almost no disruption for students and staff, while the project at Jefferson may cause minimal disruption. Parents may need to go around the construction and use alternate entrances, for example.

The estimated date of completion for the projects is Nov. 1, but Sesker said that timeline could fluctuate. 

Before construction begins on the entrances at Lincoln and Jefferson, parking lot construction at both schools will wrap up. With the expansion of parking lots at both locations and a new parking lot at Jefferson, school bus and parent drop-off locations will be kept separate.

“That’s going to make a huge difference for the safety of students,” said Sesker.

Funding for the parking lot project is from the schools’ parking lot levy, a restricted fund limited to parking lot improvements. Faribault Public Schools' general fund does not intermix with this funding source.

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty.

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