Grand Meadow expansion to hold ground breaking Tuesday

Grand Meadow Public Schools will break ground at 10 a.m. Tuesday for its expansion project.

The school is moving forward with a new physical education complex after area voters passed a $3 million bond referendum for the project last November.

District officials met with architects to discuss the 37,000-square-foot project. The $6 million project will start in the August, and administration hopes it will open in time for the 2016-2017 school year. Bids for the construction work will go out in July.

“We wanted to do [the groundbreaking] in May because every one of the students will be at the ground breaking,” Principal Paul Besel said.

The students will join teachers, administration, architects and community members at the groundbreaking. There will be two rounds of ceremonial dirt shoveling, first with the Grand Meadow Public Schools Board and next with student representatives. The project was made possible by a $3 million donation to the district early in 2014 after voters turned down a $13.7 million referendum to build a new school and phy ed complex to accommodate Grand Meadow Public Schools’s rapidly growing student population.

The donation came with two stipulations: District officials couldn’t ask for a bond referendum that cost more than the $3 million donation, and a proposed walking track on the original phy ed complex designs needed to stay in place for the future project. The current domed buildings will not be affected by the construction work, and Besel said the only thing people may have to do is park a bit further away from the athletic field.

Though the district is in need of more classrooms, the new complex was the biggest priority as the district could free up space for more extracurriculars. In addition, the upcoming complex project could include four classrooms and a weight room for an additional $400,000. The four classrooms would help school officials shift space around to make room for additional elementary classes, as Grand Meadow’s elementary student population is growing faster than other student segments.

As of Friday morning, Besel said administration had about $380,000 through private donations.

He is excited the project is finally underway.

“It’s a really good feeling,” Besel said. “There’s been a lot of hard work that’s been done. … There’s been a lot of meetings where we’re trying to hammer out specific details so that we have a quality product that goes out to a bid.”

Though the complex is the first of three phases — district officials had initially proposed a middle school/high school addition and an elementary school addition — district officials hope the complex project will accommodate Grand Meadow’s growing population for the next seven to 10 years.

“It’s really exciting,” Besel said. “We want to be good stewards with the tax dollars … and donations, and make sure we can do what we thought we would need.”

 —Trey Mewes contributed to this report.

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