WHITE BEAR LAKE — Official approval was granted to-the school district last week to double the size of North Campus. The large expansion unites a now divided high school into one campus for grades 9 through 12. 

City Council voted April 13 to allow the district a conditional use permit to add 398,000 square feet to the campus for a total of 670,000 square feet upon completion. 

Community Development Director Anne Kane provided council an overview of the huge integrated project that is part of the $326 million bond referendum approved by voters in 2019. 

“The project is not without its challenges and impact to surrounding neighborhoods,” Kane noted. Off-site improvements are planned to mitigate impacts, but they are not yet finalized. There is time to “iron out details” and how costs will be shared, she said.

Councilman Bill Walsh said he supports the project but there are “a lot of moving parts; a lot of issues and concerns. Let the project come into play. We will remain flexible so changes can be easily made. It’s a good plan but a big plan.” 

The school is looking to occupy the campus in the ’24-’25 school year. 

The 2019 referendum also approved moving district offices from Central Middle School to the Sunrise Park building and converting South Campus to a middle school for the southern portion of the district. 

North Campus was originally constructed in 1963 to serve as White Bear High School. It was expanded in 1994.

The architecture firm for the current project, Wold, wrote in its narrative that throughout the design process, a guiding principle has been the inclusion of feedback from the Core Planning Team, a group of parents, teachers, students and administrators intimately familiar with White Bear Lake and the high school itself. 

The 90-acre campus (including Central) will have capacity for up to 3,200 students, a 20% anticipated enrollment increase.

— Debra Neutkens

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