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First phase of summer construction nears completion

Red Wing students will return to school Wednesday, Sept. 6. Construction work at Twin Bluff Middle is close to completion. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Crews paved the student parking lot at Red Wing High School in late July. Photo by Kevin Johnson2 / 3
The main entrance at Burnside Elementary School was updated with a secured entrance, requiring visitors to enter through the front office before accessing the school. Samantha Bengs / RiverTowns Multimedia3 / 3

Summer construction at Twin Bluff Middle School, Burnside Elementary School and Red Wing High School is closing in on completion.

Superintendent Karsten Anderson said the majority of the work will be completed as students return to school Wednesday, Sept. 6.

"We're on time, under budget and delivering on the promises we made," he said.

In April 2016, voters authorized $22.6 million in bonds for updates and repairs of school building in the district.

"We were in a situation where we had to do some of these major renovations otherwise we would have had to take significant money out of the general fund, which would have negatively impacted student learning," Anderson said. "We're grateful for the support that the community gave us, and that they trusted us enough to spend their own tax dollars to help make these improvements."

The construction was planned in two phases over the 2017 and 2018 summer breaks.

This summer, extensive work at Twin Bluff and Burnside caused both buildings to be closed for the summer. Staff had to work elsewhere, including former Jefferson School.

In February, the Red Wing School Board approved a school year start date of Sept. 6, one day later than the traditional Tuesday after Labor Day.

Students at Twin Bluff were also released three days early in May, allowing contractors to begin work in the building under a very tight schedule.

Anderson said the district anticipated the schedule beforehand, and was glad the early release and late start decisions were made.

With many teachers and administrators unable to access classrooms this summer, the superintendent said the extra day Tuesday will be crucial for teachers to prep their classrooms for students on the first day.

"People understand that these are big projects that we are doing, and with that comes a need for flexibility and patience," Anderson said. "Overall, I have no doubt that our students, staff and community members appreciate that and have really helped with the process."

Projects completed

At Burnside, Anderson said the replacing of air handling units will create much better air flow within the building. A security entrance was added to channel visitors into the main office. Hydronic piping throughout the building was replaced and repair work on walls and exterior lintels were completed.

The majority of this summer's work was at Twin Bluff.

Anderson said some of the key projects included: replacing sections of the roof, addressing mechanical system issues, reshaping of the parking lot and driveway entrance and new entrance with a elevator.

"The elevator entrance will not be ready by first day of school," Anderson said. Contractors will continue work for a few more weeks to finalize the new entrance.

Anderson expects the renovated restrooms, hallway carpet and new lockers will be the most well-received improvements by students and parents.

"They will really appreciate these updates," he said.

Student parking lots were redone and re-roofing work was completed, except for some remaining metal flashing work at Red Wing High School. The pathway to be compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act near the soccer fields was not completed due to wet ground condition in recent weeks.

"We'll finish that up when the ground dries out," he said.

Landscaping and parking lot painting will continue after students return.

The high school is scheduled for more extensive work next summer.

Sunnyside Elementary and Colvill Family Center also are scheduled for work in 2018.

"We will have similar challenges next year," Anderson said of Phase 2 construction, "but it is nice to finish this phase on a strong note."

Shortly after this school year get underway, Anderson said internal meetings will begin to plan for next summer's schedule.