It appears the White Bear Lake Area School Board is on board with proposed plans for a one-campus high school, new elementary school in Hugo and other building updates in the district. 

The White Bear Lake Area School Board reviewed proposed facilities plans, including new and expanded school buildings, at its June 10 meeting. The plans were put forth by a 90-member committee that met this winter and were previously discussed at a board workshop in April. The board unanimously authorized district administration to come back with detailed plans for a bond referendum at a workshop meeting 5:30 p.m. June 27. 

The board had little to discuss except to thank the committee members for their hard work. 

“Thank you to the committee members for their work, planning and organization,” said Clerk Ellen Fahey. “It makes our job easier in terms of knowing there have been community members already involved in the process, and so many of them.” 

The board has not yet officially approved the plans or the bond referendum; its vote June 10 was simply an acknowledgement the board wants to continue to move ahead with the process, explained Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak and Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Tim Wald. The board is expected to vote on the bond referendum at its July 15 regular meeting. Then it would be put on the November ballot.

The facility planning committee of 90 staff, parents and community members came to a consensus on the plans this spring after discussing five options for high school and elementary configuration to meet growing enrollment needs. The facilities planning was prompted by the district's recent strategic planning. Enrollment is expected to increase to about 10,800 in less than 10 years, according to district documents. It is about 8,600 this year. Current capacity is 8,700.

Committee members also discussed that the current building models put children through more transitions than typical across the United States, Wald noted. Hugo students, for example, transition between two elementary school buildings and two high school buildings throughout their schooling. 

The plans for the next 10 years include a one-campus high school at North Campus, Sunrise Park Middle School moving to South Campus, and a new K-5 elementary school in Hugo. Oneka would become a K-5 school and Hugo would become an early childhood center. Sunrise would become an early childhood center, transition center, senior center and district offices. The vacated district offices would be an expansion for Central Middle School. Safety and security improvements, as well as flexible furniture, are also part of the plans. 

The draft plans estimate the amount of the bond referendum needed for phase one to be about $326 million. The tax impact for a bond referendum between $300-350 million would be about $180 to $300 more per year for a home valued at $300,000, according to committee documents.

Updates and changes in White Bear Lake Area Schools:

   A new K-5 elementary school in Hugo

   Convert Oneka Elementary from grades 2-5 to a K-5 elementary and Hugo Elementary from grades K-1 to a northern early childhood location

   Expand North Campus to become the district’s grade 9-12 high school

   Move Sunrise Park Middle School to South Campus

   Convert Sunrise Park Middle School for various community programs, including the Senior Center and early childhood programs currently housed at Normandy Park, the Transition Education Center currently located in leased space in Hugo, and the District Center offices

   Expand Central Middle School into District Center offices

Source: White Bear Lake Area Schools

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