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Superintendent: Crews will break ground on new school in the spring

Published 10:25am Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Warren Schmidt has been through his share of building projects.

Schmidt, the Rothsay School District Superintendent, has retired eight times but has been repeatedly brought back to the job. In his time in the district, there have been a handful of these kinds of projects.

For Schmidt, this has been one of the more pleasant building experiences of his tenure.

“It’s not new to me, but every one is different,” he said. “This one has been pretty enjoyable.”

The district will be ready to break ground on its new, $19 million facility next spring. They have been working with Wold Architects and Engineers out of St. Paul during the planning phase and will open up the project construction contract to a statewide bid in early February.

The project narrowly passed a referendum in May and some district residents are still displeased with the project cost. But Schmidt believes many of these residents will come around once they see construction begin.

In the meantime, Schmidt has been having countless meetings each week, going over all facets of the new building. With help from the board of education and input from many community members and students, this planning stage has been thorough.

“If you’ve got good people, the rest of it falls into place pretty easily,” Schmidt said. “I think when it’s all done, we’ll all be very proud of it.”

The new school will be located about one mile north of the current building and, at 91,000 square feet, will be almost twice as large. It will include two gyms, a performance arts center and larger classrooms, among other things.

One of the things Schmidt said the school’s staff is most excited about is smaller class sizes. The current school has two classrooms per grade up to fourth grade, but only one for grades 5-12.

“The teachers are looking forward to it,” Schmidt said. “There will be a lot of things they’ll be able to do that they can’t do now. They’ve been very supportive and very helpful.”

The project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2015 and so far is on schedule with no complications or interruptions. Schmidt would like to see everything done by June, but current plans call for work to continue until August of that year.

Until then, the meetings and planning will continue. Schmidt has toured many area schools with teachers and community members alike, looking for ideas that they could incorporate into the new school.

There are no plans for what will be done with the current building, but Schmidt said he will be meeting with city officials to discuss future plans. One of Schmidt’s ideas is to at least turn the gym into a community recreation area.

Hopefully for Schmidt, this will be the last building project of his career.

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