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'A win for the kids': DL school referendum gets final approval

Rossman Elementary School will see three new additions in the coming years now that the DL School referendum has passed. Submitted Photo1 / 3
Roosevelt Elementary School has two additions and a number of renovations planned under the DL School's building bond. Sumbitted Photo2 / 3
The Detroit Lakes High School will also see a number of renovations in the coming years, including three additions now that the building bond has passed at the polls. Submitted Photo3 / 3

The $49.9 million Detroit Lakes school bond referendum has passed at the polls, meaning each of the district's schools will see a number of updates in the coming years.

A 53.44 percentage of yes votes passed the levy it's fourth time on the ballot. Superintendent Doug Froke says the plan took "a lot of work by a lot of people over the past five years" to finally bring something forward that the community would get on board with.

"It's been a journey. We learned a lot about listening and trying to find out what the community wants for its children. It took a while, but we got it done," he said after the election results posted Tuesday night.

A community group emerged this time around, versus two separate "vote no" and "vote yes" groups, which aided communication between the public and the school board on an issue that struggled with misinformation in the past.

"To see this finally accepted and supported by the community...it's overwhelming," said Jackie Buboltz, a co-leader of the community group. "We're so excited.

Froke says the district, along with architect Zerr Berg, will begin working on the design phase of the project right away, with plans to break ground in the spring.

"There's a lot to this project. We have construction at four different sites at one time," added Froke.

Under this plan, $27.1 million will go towards the high school to build three new additions, which will increase the size of the building by about a third. The ninth graders will get their own wing on the north side of the building. A larger addition will be built near the front entrance to provide security, a larger commons area and a full-size gym. The new gym will feature a complete set of bleachers as well as a track, so students no longer have to run in the hallways during phy-ed.

Another smaller addition near the staff parking lot will allow the high school to have a full-sized Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) area and free up the old FACS room for storage.

The middle school won't see any additions; however, it will get a new fitness room as well as security updates to the entrances.

Mechanical system improvements, like a new boiler heating system, lighting, and cabling, are among the most spendy part of the $5.3 million that will be put into the building.

Once the two planned additions at Roosevelt are completed, the fifth graders will be placed back in the elementary school, which will free up enough space at the middle school for the remaining sixth, seventh, and eighth graders.

One of the Roosevelt additions on the north side of the building will add 10 classrooms, five of which will be designated for the fifth graders. The school will also get a new gym as its second addition.

Other remodeling and improvements will bring the cost of restructuring Roosevelt to roughly $9 million, meaning $8.3 million of the bond will be left over to fund three additions at Rossman.

The largest addition at Rossman will replace the portable classrooms that currently sit on the south side of the building. Eight new classrooms and a new gym will be added in their place.

Another addition will turn an interior courtyard into part of the school, and further security at the front entrance will make up the third addition.

"This is a win for the kids. It's a win for out staff. It's a win for our community," said Froke.