Rock Ridge: Seven early moving scenarios

Rock Ridge School Board Chipper Sjoberg walks past a line of concerned parents outside the Spectrum Health Building, who lined up before Monday's school board meeting in an effort to make their presence felt to the board members. Many of the parents then attended the meeting to express their views for the board to consider while coming to a decision about students consolidating into one building.

Over their past two meetings, Rock Ridge school board members have been presented with several options which would put the construction plans ahead of schedule but involve moving students early, too.

The board on Monday chose to remove scenarios one through five (described below) from the table as they would include moving high school students who they feel should be allowed to complete their final years in their buildings. The board plans to further explore scenarios six and seven (also described below) and have requested feasibility and cost savings information from Kraus-Anderson, a construction company in Duluth.

Protest

“This shouldn’t have even been on a piece of paper,” said Mark Krmpotich addressing the school board Monday during visitor input. “I plead with you guys to think about what is best for the kids...They’ve been through hell and it’s not healthy for them. Now you are talking about making 2021 as bad as 2020 has been.”

After the meeting, Krmpotich, a parent of three kids enrolled in Rock Ridge who is running for a school board position against current member Brandi Lautigar, told the Mesabi Tribune that he was “the outspoken organizer” concerning the protest which occurred outside the recent meeting. “I am a parent and a taxpayer,” he said. “I’m running because I regret not running two years ago. I feel like I need to.”

Krmpotich said about 20-25 people gathered outside the Spectrum building who disagreed “with what the school board was trying to do.”

“During the consolidation, promises were made to the public on when the two school would merge students,” he said. “These new scenarios being proposed would move that up two years. I think the public should be given what they voted on and not what is convenient for administration.”

When asked his views on consolidation, Krmpotich said “it is fine” as long as it is not overly disrupting students.

Krmpotich is president of the Eveleth-Gilbert Hoops, the basketball booster club, and brought up the consolidation of teams. “The promise was made that no sports would be combined, unless the numbers support otherwise. The kids deserve to play out their career.”

With the news that the school board removed the scenarios which would move the high school students, Krmpotich said that the protesters “looked at it as a victory.”

At the Sept. 28 meeting, the board was presented with five moving scenarios with the objective “To minimize costs and accelerate construction of the new Virginia Elementary,” stated the presentation.

However, any early moving would require moving students, staff and faculty in the middle of the year or during summer, depending on the scenario, and acquiring costs associated with the move and potential remodeling needs.

This discussion was led by Jeff Carey, Facilities Manager for Rock Ridge School District, and was prompted by the current bidding environment which could save the district money for their various projects.

Scenario 1: Do Nothing

Currently, moving plans include: Eveleth-Gilbert elementary move into their new building in December 2021; all 7-12 graders move to their new building August 2023; construction of the new Virginia Elementary begins in June 2023 and is ready for students by August 2025.

The benefit here is that this has always been the plan and what has been communicated from the start. However, the district would be at the “mercy of increased construction costs.”

Scenario 2: All Move in Dec. 2021

Scenario two includes Eveleth-Gilbert elementary move into the new building. Roosevelt Elementary moves to Franklin Elementary. All 7-9 graders move together to EGHS. All 10-12 graders move together into the Gilbert campus.

A benefit to this plan is that a playground would be available to Roosevelt students. However, all Virginia students would need to be bused and science and industrial technology spaces are not equivalent to current space in Virginia.

This would allow for all high school students to move into the new high school in September 2023. Construction of the new Virginia Elementary school would begin in Jan. 2022 and be ready for occupancy by August 2023. This would allow for the Virginia elementary to be completed two years ahead of schedule.

Scenario 3: All Move in June 2021

Scenario three includes Eveleth-Gilbert elementary moving into Franklin Elementary. Roosevelt Elementary moving into VHS. All 7-9 graders move together to EGHS. All 10-12 graders move together into the Gilbert campus.

Unfortunately, there would be limited outdoor space at the Virginia campus, older Virginia students would need to be bused and science and industrial technology spaces are not equivalent to current space in Virginia.

This would allow for all high school students to move into the new high school in September 2023. Construction of the new Virginia Elementary school would begin in June 2021 and be ready for occupancy by December 2022. This would allow for the Virginia elementary to be completed two and a half years ahead of schedule.

Scenario 4: Move Occurs June 2021

Scenario four includes Eveleth-Gilbert elementary moving into Franklin Elementary. Roosevelt Elementary moving into VHS. Eveleth-Gilbert 7-12 grades move into EGHS. Virginia 7-12 grades move into the Gilbert Campus.

This would keep the high schools separate. Unfortunately, the science and industrial technology spaces are not equivalent to current space in Virginia.

This would allow for all high school students to move into the new high school in September 2023. Construction of the new Virginia Elementary school would begin in June 2021 and be ready for occupancy by December 2022. This would allow for the Virginia elementary to be completed two and a half years ahead of schedule.

Scenario 5: Move Occurs Dec. 2021

Scenario five includes Eveleth-Gilbert elementary moving into their new building. Roosevelt Elementary moving into VHS. All 7-9 graders move together to the Gilbert campus. All 10-12 graders move together into EGHS.

This would keep the high schools separate. Science space is limited and some courses would need to be taught in a traditional classroom. Also, technology education spaces do not exist on the Eveleth campus.

This would allow for all high school students to move into the new high school in September 2023. Construction of the new Virginia Elementary school would begin in January 2022 and be ready for occupancy by August 2023. This would allow for the Virginia elementary to be completed two years ahead of schedule.

These scenarios were updated for the Oct. 12 meeting. The following two additional scenarios, along with Scenario One, would require the least amount of student movement.

Scenario 6: Move Occurs Dec. 2021

Scenario six includes Eveleth-Gilbert Elementary moving into their new building. Roosevelt Elementary moves into Franklin Elementary. Eveleth-Gilbert 7-12 remains as they are. VHS remains where they are.

This would keep the high schools separate.

This would allow for all high school students to move into the new high school in Sept. 2023. Construction of the new Virginia Elementary school would begin in January 2022 and be ready for occupancy by August 2023. This would allow for the Virginia elementary to be completed two years ahead of schedule.

Scenario 7: Move Occurs June 2021

Scenario seven includes Eveleth-Gilbert Elementary moving into Franklin Elementary. Roosevelt Elementary moves to the Gilbert campus. Eveleth-Gilbert 7-12 moves into EGHS. VHS remains where they are.

This would keep the high schools separate.

This would allow for all high school students to move into the new high school in September 2023. Construction of the new Virginia Elementary school would begin in June 2021 and be ready for occupancy by December 2022. This would allow for the Virginia elementary to be completed two years ahead of schedule.

Rock Ridge has scheduled its next school board meeting for 6 p.m. on Oct. 26.

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