New K-6 Elementary School Renderings
New 7-12 High School Renderings
Eveleth-Gilbert and Virginia Public Schools:
Updated Questions and Answers, February 2020
Q: What is happening with the acquisition of land for the schools?
A: We are in the final details of closing on the property Site B (where the high school and most athletic fields will be located) from the City of Virginia. A deal is in place. We are working with the City of Eveleth to acquire the necessary land for property Site A (where the Eveleth-Gilbert elementary school will be built). We hope to have this part of the process completed within days, and the final closing to be finished next week.
Q: When will the logging of the properties begin?–so the land can be cleared for construction to begin?
A: The schools have bid out the logging contract and once the land deals are closed, logging will commence this month and continue into March.
Q: What about wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas?
A: We are directing the architects and designers to avoid wetlands and any environmentally sensitive areas as much as possible. To that extent, all buildings and athletic fields are being intentionally designed to minimize the footprint on the land. This will greatly increase the future use of the sites for environmental learning stations and also add to the ambiance of the natural landscape.
Q: What is happening with the new high school design?
A: The architects are continuing to take the information gathered from the various stakeholders and are making adjustments to the draft designs of how the space might look in a new building. Recently, both school boards saw the schematic design for the high school and on February 3, the Joint School Board approved the schematic design. Note: Schematic designs are rough drawings of plans. The next phase is the design development phase, which simply means that the exterior and interior layouts, the room sizes and materials, HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems will be more fully designed.
Q: What is happening with the new Eveleth-Gilbert elementary school design?
A: Both school boards have seen the schematic design and the joint powers board has approved the schematic design. As with the high school, the next phase will be the development of the design development phase.
Q: What is happening with the new Virginia (Roosevelt) elementary school?
A: Nothing has started on the new Virginia elementary school because it will be the last building built. It will be the final building constructed because the high school students will need to be moved to the new high school before any construction on Roosevelt elementary can begin. The money to build the new Virginia elementary school has been specially set aside and can’t be used to complete other building projects.
Q: Are the buildings on budget?
A: Yes. Both the high school and the Eveleth-Gilbert elementary school are currently on budget and will be on budget before any bidding takes place. Because the school districts are in charge of the construction, all buildings must be on budget before any bidding takes place. This avoids the problem of “hoping we can afford it.” This is a different form of construction budgeting than what is used in some school construction projects, in which the building is designed without regard for cost, and then after the project is bid, the building is scaled down to what can be afforded. In this form of construction budgeting, cost overruns are more likely to occur. In our case, however, we are not sending out any bids until we are reasonably certain we can afford the final design. This helps drive down costs and keeps a tighter lid on the budget.
Q: How does the budget work for the construction of the high school and two elementary schools?
A: The total budget is $178,475,000 for a new high school and two new elementary schools. Included in the budget is $7,500,000 for the demolition of buildings which cannot be used or repurposed. The budget is specific and detailed for each building. Every square foot of building construction needs to be accounted for and taken into account. The budget requires attention to detail and precision and we intend to be prudent with taxpayer dollars. In addition, we are not moving money from one building to pay for something in another building. Each building had a specific budget when the plan went to the voters and we are sticking to the original budgetary plan. If costs rise or we run into unexpected expenses, then something will have to be reduced in that building to make the budget work. This is the same thing that happens with household budgets, and school construction budgets are no different.
Q: What about the athletic fields?
A: The architects are working with the Advisory Committee and school boards to design the athletic fields. All designs are preliminary, and the architects are constantly updating and changing them to fit student needs and the budget. As can be expected, the East end of the Range has building challenges that other parts of the state of Minnesota don’t have. These challenges include rocks, ravines, wetlands, and trees. To date, we will have a varsity baseball field, a JV baseball field, a varsity softball field, a JV softball field, a varsity football field with track and field, and a multi-use (football field size) athletic field. Two additional softball fields can be created by placing them on top of the multi-purpose field or the primary varsity football field. To create efficiencies and minimize construction costs, expect some fields to be joined together, (on top of one another) so they can be used in the spring, summer, and fall. Note: This is a developing trend in the creation of high school and collegiate fields. The University of Duluth has, for example, a softball field on top of the varsity football field, so the fields can be used more often, for more than one sport, rather than sitting idle much of the year.
Q: What about music programs?
A: We have worked with the music departments in both districts to ensure they are provided the necessary space to maintain high quality music programs in all areas of music. The new high school will include a performing arts auditorium with a more intimate seating capacity of 750 (note: we are investigating whether we can increase this seating capacity), ample practice spaces, and separate rooms for orchestra, band, and choir. There will also be musical instrument lockers, and an area for kids in music to congregate, talk, and study.
Q: What about tech ed in the new high school?
A: All designs are preliminary, but the current draft design will create, relative to the size of its general high school population, one of the largest tech ed areas in the upper Midwest. The total square footage allocated to tech ed will be larger than the equivalent of three full-size high school gyms. These spaces will allow our students to explore areas of interest and receive exposure and training in multiple areas, including those focused on future trends in technology education. (Note: This is where the building and trades are located.)
Q: What is happening with the swimming pools?
A: Unfortunately, because of the extraordinary site prep costs associated with the site–rocks, water, ravines, trees–we have had to remove the community pool from the design. (Note: It is important to understand that all of the final building sites being considered had significant construction obstacles–such as rocks, water, ravines, trees.) There will continue to be a large competitive pool with ample seating capacity for large swim meets.
Q: Why do we need so many classrooms? I want more athletic fields. Can’t they cut the classrooms to build more athletic fields?
A: No. We’re not going to do that. Education and classrooms come first. We are designing educational opportunities and learning spaces first and making sure our students and teachers have the space they need. Sports and athletic fields will come second. We are not going to sacrifice the educational futures of our children and grandchildren just to build another athletic field. That said, our athletic fields will be built very well and will serve our athletes well.
Q: I’m hearing that some people are upset about the space they are getting? What is happening?
A: The taxpayers were very generous with their “yes” vote to build a new high school and two elementary buildings. But it does not mean everybody gets everything they want. Just as in any household building project, there is a budget, and the school districts will build what they can afford within the budget. Compromises are part of any building budget. That said, once people walk into the new buildings, we believe they will be very happy with what they discover.
Q: Have teachers visited other schools and observed first-hand what is happening in newly-constructed schools off the Range?
Q: Yes. Teachers have visited twelve schools so far, most of them in Minnesota. All of the schools they visited have been recently constructed. All of the teachers who have visited these schools have said that it was critical for them to see what was happening in modern school construction. The teachers, both elementary and high school, have collectively said the visits were some of the best things they have professionally done. About forty elementary and high school teachers from both school districts participated in the visits.
Q: Will these buildings be different than other school buildings in Minnesota?
A: Yes. Within budget, these buildings will be designed according to the learning needs of the students being considered first, as the number one important priority. In the high school, education will be transformed into something which is better aligned with student interests, helping students make wiser career decisions, which will include the opportunity for business and school partnerships. For high school students, it is a game changer. For elementary school students, the new elementary schools will be designed with 21st century skills as the backbone of educational architecture and programming.
Q: What is the Advisory Committee?
A: The Advisory Committee, which is composed of members of both the Eveleth-Gilbert and Virginia school districts, exists because, as the process moves along, it will be important to have direct recommendations going to the architects and builders. The Advisory Committee will, in turn, report directly to the Joint Powers Board, which includes three school board members from Eveleth-Gilbert and three school board members from Virginia Public Schools.
Q: When will construction start?
A: We are targeting construction to begin on the Eveleth-Gilbert elementary school in the Spring/Summer of 2020 and for construction to begin on the high school in the Fall of 2020.
Q: When will the buildings open?
A: The Eveleth-Gilbert Elementary school will most likely open in the Fall of 2022. The combined Career Academy High School will most likely open in the Fall of 2023. Construction on the Virginia (Roosevelt) elementary school will not begin until after the new high school opens.
Q: I have additional questions. How do I get answers?
A: The best and fastest way to get answers is to call/ email the Virginia superintendent Dr. Noel Schmidt, at 218-749-5437 extension email@example.com or call/email the Eveleth-Gilbert superintendent Jeff Carey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“A source of community strength and pride, the Virginia Public Schools work in partnership with families and the local community to educate and engage our students and prepare them to be productive and responsible citizens.”
The Virginia Public Schools’ work is guided by these principles:
- Respect – Our District upholds the concept of equality and practices mutual respect for individual differences at every level of school interaction. We want all students to feel they belong, are included, and have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment.
- The Whole Child – We embrace a comprehensive approach to education that ensures each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Our definition of success is focused on the balanced development of children in addition to academic achievement.
- Highest Quality – Our District values a culture of continuous improvement, seeking out best practices and regularly assessing our results in order to maximize individual student potential.
- Community Engagement – We address the comprehensive needs of students through a shared responsibility and mutual partnership between students, families, school and community.
- Stewardship – As a public school, we are dedicated to utilizing the community’s educational assets in an accountable, cost-effective way, keeping the collective needs of students as our top priority.
Vision Of Educational Success
The Virginia Public School District envisions an environment where every child matters and strong community roots foster success. Young adults emerging from our schools will be well-rounded in their experiences and knowledge from academics, to the arts, to athletics. This range of opportunities will allow individuals to explore and discover their talents and interests, eventually helping them to determine a career path and lifetime pursuits. Alignment of coursework with their individual career choice will fully prepare students for whichever post-secondary path they want to follow, understanding that all these choices have value. Every student will be supported to graduate from high school, and will do so knowing the next steps they will take toward achieving their future goals.
No matter their direction, all students will possess basic life skills, be financially literate, and have the ability to use 21st century technology. They will be critical thinkers and creative problem solvers who love learning and are motivated to continue gaining knowledge throughout their lives. They will know how to think for themselves while working towards a common goal with a diverse group of people. They will be kind and respectful young adults with the interpersonal skills that allow them to function well in society. They will possess inner strength and confidence, and will have developed the resilience and coping skills needed to face life’s challenges. They will be physically and mentally healthy and take responsibility for leading healthy lifestyles. Students will leave our school with a sense of belonging and pride in the community they come from, be able to think beyond themselves, and have a desire to give back.