School board gathers ideas for creation of new middle school

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by Dave DeMars

The Nov. 19 regular Sartell-St. Stephen school board meeting saw the board gathering much information in the form of reports on the remodeling and transformation of the present high school into a middle school to serve grades six through eight.

Two other presentation dealt with the district’s World’s Best Workforce Plan Summary, and a construction report on the new high school, and consideration of the process and proposed 2019-2020 Sartell-St. Stephen Academic Calendar.

Dan Grothe and Hailey Wrasman of the Cuningham Group Architect presented a proposal for the remodeling of the old high school and transforming it into a middle school. Needs of middle school students are quite different from that of high school students. Thus, the need for significant remodeling.

According to Grothe, the project is well underway with the final set of plans expected to be completed by January and some of the initial construction bids being let in late March.

Among the proposed changes to the building are a different entrance for students along with an improved security entrance for use of parents and visitors during the daytime hours. The key here is limiting access of outside visitors to students, and a better system of monitoring who has access to the building during the student work time.

Another feature of the remodel is it will seek to use the natural landscape surrounding the new Sartell Middle School and provide for the use of more natural lighting. The building will feature large class areas as well as small intimate alcoves for small groups of students to work on projects.

According to Wrasman, “general learning is organized into neighborhood teams which offer a range of opportunities for flexible learning and support of academic development.”

“The flexible furnishing –the fact the way we are learning in six-eight is very similar to what we are trying to do with the nine-12,” Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert said.

World’s Best Workforce

Kay Nelson, assistant superintendent of Learning Services, presented the district plan for meeting the state’s Striving for World’s Best Workforce requirements. The plan is then submitted to the Education commissioner. 

Part of the presentation documented progress made on the plan goals from the 2017-2018 school year. Nelson explained the achievement bar for the goals is 100 percent and is basically unachievable in most cases. For example, one goal is “All Students Graduate.” Failure of any student to graduate for any reason means the goal is not achieved. The desired result is districts in the state track present achievements and then set improvement goals that work toward the overall goal of graduation.

The World’s Best Workforce Goal was to have 90 percent of all students graduating on time. Sartell-St. Stephen school district set a goal to increase its four-year graduation rate from 99.2 percent in spring 2017 to 100 percent in spring 2018. In February of 2018, the district reported 96.6 percent of students graduated on time in the spring of 2017.

While falling short of the 2018 goal, the new goal states 100 percent of all Sartell High School seniors will graduate on time increasing the four-year graduation rate from 96.57 percent to 100 percent by spring 2019.

The rest of the report detailed goals for 2019 and the desired improvements the district will strive to make in each of the various categories in the plan.

Construction report

Construction Manager Lee Gruen summarized the progress being made on the new high school building project. Some highlights of the building process include all major structural steel pieces have now been installed. The roofing of the entire building is complete and all exterior and interior wall framing is complete. Since the building is completely enclosed, weather should not be a factor and the building process can continue with the goal of late July 2019 completion date. The construction budget is on track and no delays are expected.

Schwiebert, after consultation with the Calendar Committee, presented the process and proposed the new 2019-2020 Sartell-St. Stephen Academic Calendar and asked the board to consider adoption of the calendar in the future.

Action items

The board took the following actions:

Approved a resolution on new personnel hires in the district;

Approved the World’s Best Workforce Plan Summary for submission to the Department of Education;

Approved updates and revision to 13 district policies;

Approved fund raiser for Nordic Ski Team;

Approved an agreement with the College of St. Scholastica dealing with placement of student teachers;

Approved a call for bids for certain items in the new high school building project.

The Truth in Taxation Meeting will be 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, at Sartell High School Media Center. The next board meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Dec. 17 in the Sartell High School Media Center.

photo by Dave DeMars
Dan Grothe and Hailey Wrasman of the Cuningham Group Architect present ideas for the renovation of the old high school to the school board. The renovation will feature the redesign of several areas within the present building to accommodate the needs of younger students.

contributed photo
Here are the proposed areas that each grade will occupy once the middle school renovation is completed. The gray areas are common areas used by all grades.

photo by Dave DeMars
Kay Nelson presents a report highlighting the requirements of the state-mandated World’s Best Workforce goal planning. The program calls for a review of goals each year and to report progress being made to the Minnesota Department of Education.

Author: Dave DeMars

Born and raised in Wisconsin – a “Happy Days” high school experience. Attended UW-River Falls and followed their motto – “Where the free spirit prevails.” Four years in the Army Security Agency (Spies), 31 years teaching English and directing plays. Other jobs – gandy dancer, counselor at mental institution, snowmaker, apple picker, concrete finishing, janitor, furniture mover, appliance sales, insurance sales, media sales, real estate, and writer. I am skeptical to a fault and like all human being I am more oxymoron than I am anything else. I blog at

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