Its classrooms bulging, Edison eager to build
Duluth Edison students could be in a new building by the start of the next school year. The sale of bonds and a digging permit from the city of Duluth are all that stand in the way of a 90,000-square-foot school, which would be built along Rice L...
Duluth Edison students could be in a new building by the start of the next school year.
The sale of bonds and a digging permit from the city of Duluth are all that stand in the way of a 90,000-square-foot school, which would be built along Rice Lake Road next to UnitedHealthcare in Duluth Heights. Officials of the Duluth charter school district hope to break ground in November.
"We have waiting lists at almost every grade level in all three buildings," said Tim Golden, the district's board chairman. "Enrollment this year is higher than it's ever been. That's the core issue driving this."
The Edison board will sell $18 million worth of bonds to build the school and to buy and renovate the Raleigh Edison school in western Duluth -- moves approved by the Minnesota Department of Education. Because charter schools don't have taxing authority, the bonds would be paid back over 30 years with money Edison receives from the state.
The three-level school will house 900 students from kindergarten through eighth grade and is meant to replace the Kenwood elementary and Washburn junior academy schools. The building has been designed with a "house" concept, giving separate areas and amenities to grades kindergarten through second, third through fifth, and sixth through eighth, much like "schools within a school," said Paul Goossens, an Edison parent and chairman of the Tischer Creek Duluth Building Company, a nonprofit organization created to serve Edison's interests.
The school will have a central hub and separate entries for grades six through eight and kindergarten through fifth grade. Kindergarten, first and second grades will have their own wing connected to the three-level building. Along with science and computer labs, the school will have 34 classrooms.
"We are very excited that we will actually have a gymnasium large enough to host home basketball and volleyball games," said Bonnie Jorgensen, head of Edison schools. "It will more completely meet the needs we have."
Because charter schools can't own buildings, Edison created the Tischer Creek entity. It will own the new building and will buy the Raleigh building from the Catholic Diocese of Duluth. The Duluth school district owns the Kenwood building; Duluth Bible Church owns Washburn and still uses some of the space. The old and worn school buildings have been the only weak link for Edison, Goossens said.
"It makes the teaching that much more of a challenge," he said. "There is this attitude that charter schools get the hand-me-downs. This is a really good opportunity to say, 'No, our kids deserve and should have the same kind of ... safe, well-heated, well-insulated buildings as everybody else."
The costs to fix the leased buildings versus the cost to build were similar, Jorgensen said.
"We're getting more for our money by building new," she said.
Plans for the school site have been approved by the city's Planning Commission, and Kraus Anderson has been chosen as the construction management company.
Between its three schools, Edison enrolled 1,073 students this year. Once the school is built, Edison enrollment could grow to 1,200, Golden said. The goal for the new school is to have four sections for each class level.
"We've been in a growth mode for years," Goossens said. "This will help solidify the maintenance of that."