The Free Press, Mankato, MN

St. Peter news

May 30, 2014

St. Peter district chooses new high school location

Career center could be built nearby

(Continued)

Besides the new high school, the $55 million bond project would include repurposing the middle/high school as a 5-8 middle school ($1.5 million); repairing the middle/high pool ($700,000); relocating early learning and community education to the current middle/high building ($700,000); renovation at South Elementary School ($825,000); revisions at North Intermediate ($250,000); and Minnesota Valley Education District building improvements and upgrades ($500,000).

The remaining costs would include site work, fees and permits, and bond and finance costs, among other things. The School Board voted Friday for ISG (formerly I&S Group) to handle the architectural services.

Collaborative efforts also have led to another potential addition to the land: a Career Academy and Workforce Development Center. In speaking with members of the business community, nonprofits and others, Olson said there's a need for a center to help train students and workers for regional in-demand industries, such as health care, agriculture and manufacturing.

The district would not foot the bill for the center. “Someone else will build it,” Olson said. But the district would potentially manage the facility, which would be used by students in the district and adults in the community, Peterson said.

“This is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — multiple acres, new facility, partnerships abounding — and quite frankly, we don't want to miss any opportunities for our kids and community,” Peterson said.

The center would fit well with the high school's academy-based learning program, which focuses on such areas as medical science, agricultural science and engineering, Peterson said. Students receive in-class training as well as hands-on experiences in the career fields.

“(The idea is) to help develop a thriving workforce here in our community. It's never too early to start talking about those skills with kids,” Peterson said.

Olson said the center would have flexible spaces and uses because 20 years from now the career and workforce demands likely will not be the same as they are now.

So far, there are no investors or sponsors for the center. As plans are still in the early stages, an estimate for building costs isn't available.

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