Park Rapids School Board approves high school design

The bonded school construction project will now move from design development to construction documents.

The improved Park Rapids Area High School will include several examples of the "learning commons" concept, allowing classes to flow out into common areas for collaborative projects, with plenty of natural light and a visual connection with surrounding classrooms.
Courtesy of JLG Architects and the Park Rapids Area Schools
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The Park Rapids School Board on Monday approved design development on the district’s bond-funded secondary school additions and renovations, and authorized project engineers to proceed with construction documents.

This "bird's eye orthographic" of Park Rapids Area High School, showing upcoming additions, is oriented with north to the upper right. Grades 7-8 will be moved from Century School to a new, L-shaped wing to the southeast, with district, special ed and Community Education offices at the south end of the building's long, north-south axis, a new gym to the southwest, and smaller additions for the school kitchens, theater scene shop, high school offices, Alternative Learning Center and career and technical education (CTE).
Courtesy of JLG Architects and the Park Rapids Area Schools

Jason Maaninga with ICS showed the school board a plan for a new asphalt parking lot and bus drop-off area at the south end of the high school, cutting across the grounds from Huntsinger Avenue to Helten Avenue and increasing parking by 30-35 stalls.

Katie Becker with JLG Architects presented a more detailed view of the proposed design, including an L-shaped classroom wing for grades 7-8; a block of offices for district administration, special education and Community Education; and an expanded activities wing with a new gymnasium and relocated locker rooms, all toward the south end of the school.

In addition, Becker presented a long main concourse running from the south entrance to the career and technical education (CTE) area at the north; additions for the relocated kitchen, high school offices adjacent the main east entrance, a new theater scene shop, Alternative Learning Center and CTE transportation lab.

Among the details were renovated and relocated media center and locker bays, several open-plan “learning commons” areas, a graphic design lab, two- and three-dimensional art studios and a coffee shop.


Maaninga laid out a timeline for the project, expecting to complete construction documents by December, put the project out to bid at the end of the year and open bids on Jan. 24, 2023.

With the demolition of the Frank White Education Center and additions at the south end of Park Rapids Area High School will come a new parking lot, south of the school, with entrances from both Helten Avenue and Huntsinger Avenue, a walkway over a stormwater infiltration basin providing access to the ice arena, and direct access to the new gym, Community Education, special education and district offices and the grades 7-8 wing.
Courtesy of ICS and the Park Rapids Area Schools

After that, phases of work would include:

  • Demolition of the Frank White Education Center in late May 2023.
  • Building the south additions and high school offices from June 2023 to August 2024. 
  • A “summer slam” of renovations in 2024, including the media center, east classroom wing and bathrooms.
  • Building the kitchen, ALC and CTE additions from June 2024 to February 2025.
  • Renovating the west classroom wing from August 2024 to February 2025.
  • Renovating the locker rooms, concession stand and CTE wing during the summer of 2025. 

Maaninga said the engineering estimate for the project totals $36.8 million, or 1.83% over the budget of $36.2 million. However, he assured the school board that this was not unusual, reminding them that the project has a 2% estimate contingency for design development.
On Maaninga’s recommendation, the school board (absent Stephanie Carlson) unanimously approved design development and authorized moving forward with construction documents.

Other business

In consent items and general business, the school board:


  • Approved the district’s 10-year Long Term Facility Maintenance plan, an annual submission to the Minnesota Department of Education. Business Manager Kent Fritze said the district is allocated about $674,000 a year for LTFM, which the district can use or save for larger maintenance needs, such as an upcoming replacement of the Century School roof expected to cost $3.5 million.
  • Hired Jacob Hitchins as National Honor Society advisor, Jason Kopp as a driver for the Walker (Up North Learning Center) bus route, Erin Romanski as a speech language pathologist and Nichole Christofferson-Weston as a middle school coordinator of education services.
  • Increased a Community Education paraprofessional position from 10 to 15 hours per week.
  • Approved a leave of absence without pay for middle school special education teacher David Schaum, effective for the 2022-23 school year.
  • Heard Fritze report his staff is wrapping up the district’s year-end accounts in preparation for the auditors arriving on Aug. 22.
  • Heard Century School Principal Mike LeMier report about 110 kindergartners are registered for the fall. Elementary assistant principal Steph Mercil added that a Targeted Services summer school session is coming Aug. 1-11.
  • Heard Community Education Director Jill Dickinson report that the Century Adventures after-school program averages 80-85 students, sometimes going up to about 100 during Targeted Services sessions. She said they are planning August field trips and fall course offerings.
  • Approved second readings of the district’s employee, elementary school, middle school, high school, activities, substitute, technology implementation, Century Adventures and virtual academy handbooks, coaches’ manual, student rights and responsibilities, code of conduct and discipline policy for 2022-23.
  • Approved payments presented for July, totaling $2,225,000.
  • Approved a quarterly report on Student Activities accounts, showing revenues totaling $12,333 and expenses totaling $13,614.

The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8 at the Frank White Education Center.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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