District renovations to take place under referendum

Planned construction to be completed by 2022


Grace Farley

A construction worker uses a saw to take a handle off a door at the high school Aug. 20. District improvements will be completed by 2022, according to District facilities manager Tom Bravo.

Sophie Olmen and Dani Orloff

According to Superintendent Astein Osei, numerous facility improvements were voted on in the $100.9 million referendum passed last November.

“81 percent of the people that voted supported in favor of it, which is pretty tremendous, you know that’s exciting that the community supports our schools at such a high level,” Osei said.  

District Facilities Manager Tom Bravo said these renovations to St. Louis Park Public Schools have already begun to take place.

“We have quite a bit of things we need to be doing in the next two to three years,” Bravo said. “We still have to upgrade all of our kitchens, from middle school, high school, of course high school is going to get a brand new kitchen, and all of the elementary schools.”

Osei said many members of the community were involved in deciding the specific remodeling projects taking place under the referendum.

“The board and community stakeholders participated in a year-long process really trying to assess what the facilities needs were and are here at St. Louis Park because you know, a lot of our schools are really old,” Osei said.

Freshman Evie Ordorff said the improvements will aid future students in their acquisition of knowledge.

“I think it can create new experiences for them when they come to the high school,” Ordorff said. “I think it’ll just be more exciting and give students more opportunities to learn.”

According to Assistant Principal Jessica Busse, the District Office space has already been moved out of the high school, allowing the high school to be reoriented.

“The student office will eventually be moving to the old District Office. They are going to be doing some remodeling down there and then the counseling office will actually go into the west atrium of the District Office,” Busse said. “The assistant principal, student office and the principal office will all be moved together into the District Office space.

According to the St. Louis Park School District, the District Office moved to a leased space at 6311 Wayzata Blvd. July 12 with a lease for four to five years and will eventually be permanently located at the Central Community Center, where PSI is temporarily located.

Busse said the high school student office space will be used for many different purposes.

“The student office will be still some student offices and some special education teachers will be using this office and a couple of other people will be using this space,” Busse said.

According to Osei, with the principal’s office and counseling office empty, supplementary renovations will be made at the high school to meet the needs of the growing district.  

“The high school had administrators and counselors and other support staff where the A1 staff is currently located at and it will be redeveloped and utilized as classroom space,” Osei said.

Sophomore Evan Nelson said he feels the upgraded classrooms will provide many students with the right learning tools.

“I think they’ll have laptops and better resources to learn and new textbooks because they’re all like 20 years old,” Nelson said.

Bravo said the major construction projects will be completed during summer break.

“We’re going to be doing the enclosures during the summertime, so all the big work and the construction will be done during summer time and then when schools starts we will have everything enclosed,” Bravo said. “So, we can keep school running throughou
t the school year and do the work behind the scenes where it won’t impact the students, staff or visitors.”

Bravo said he believes these renovations will benefit the community by providing conducive learning environments to Park students.

“The district’s biggest assets are the buildings,” Bravo said. “There’s a lot of money (that goes) into these buildings, so we need to keep them up, plus we need to make sure that future programs can be developed for the students.”

According to Bravo, in addition to changes being made at the high school, construction will begin at Cedar Manor in the spring of 2019 to prepare for Park Spanish Immersion’s (PSI) relocation there next year.

“The renovation should not affect the staff, students, and office staff at all,” Bravo said. “PSI will finish their school year at Central Community Center location and start at their new school next fall.”

According to Ordorff, she is eager to see all of the new projects when they are finally finished.

“I think it’s really exciting, and it’s something new to look forward to in my years of high school,” Ordorff said. “High school itself is really exciting so this adds on to that, and I’m just really looking forward to seeing what all the new classrooms are going to look like and just everything that’s new.”