School construction plans advance for now.

 
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Byline: Brian Johnson

Coming off the passage of major bond referendums last fall, K-12 school construction is heating up from Rochester to Roseau. But the future of the sector is less certain as the COVID-19 crisis continues to be a drag on the economy.

For its part, Minneapolis-based Kraus-Anderson is working on dozens of school projects this spring and summer, said Pat Mulcahey, a Kraus-Anderson construction executive and senior project manager.

That includes a $38 million education center for the Roseville Area Schools, a $28 million addition to an elementary school in Pipestone, and a $3.6 million renovation at Chippewa Middle School in North Oaks, among other work.

Earlier this month, Kraus-Anderson was selected as construction manager of a $40 million expansion and upgrade of an 80-year-old K-12 building in Roseau, a project approved by voters in a May 12 referendum.

Mulcahey said a large share of the projects were financed through pre-pandemic referendums, and many were bid out before the COVID-19-related shutdowns started to happen. So for now it least, it's full speed ahead on school construction.

"I think we have about 50 K-12 projects going this summer," he said. "We are grateful to be doing them."

Wold Architects and Engineers has a slate full of K-12 projects that include a renovation of White Bear Lake High School, new high schools in Owatonna and Mora, a new middle school in Elk River and elementary schools.

Much of the work stems from referendums approved last fall. In November, voters in districts across the state approved more than $1.3 billion worth of funding for everything from new buildings to security upgrades.

The biggest winner was the White Bear Lake School District, which got 57.4% voter approval for a record $326 million referendum that will pay for a 375,000-square-foot high school addition, a new elementary school in Hugo and other projects.

Responding to needs such as deferred maintenance and overcrowding, voters also approved hefty construction programs in Rochester ($171 million), Elk River ($113 million), Moorhead ($110 million), Owatonna ($104 million) and other districts.

November 2019 was "a huge month" for school...

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