RIVER FALLS -- School is well underway for River Falls and students across the district have settled into new and improved spaces while a few elementary buildings are still under construction, all according to plan.
Superintendent Jamie Benson said he was pleased to report things are going well and the district construction projects are on time and on budget.
“That’s what we like to hear,” he said.
The referendum which passed in April 2018 made possible a multitude of renovations and additions in the district’s schools, all things to help accommodate a growing school district and students’ educational needs according to the district.
“The tax impact was substantially less than what we told the community would be before they voted yes. We have strong financial management and banks were eager to lend us,” said Chad Smurawa, director of finances and facilities for the district. “Taxpayers saved some substantial tax money, we’re pretty proud of that.”
River Falls School Board toured a few new spaces ahead of the school year.
School Board member Amy Halverson said at a joint City Council and board meeting she was excited to see things finally coming about.
Most non-major construction plans wrapped up by this school year such as updates to library media centers, parking lot and roof section replacements.
Rocky Branch and Greenwood Elementary are set to be completed in mid-December with heavy remodels and new construction, Benson said, while Westside Elementary is slated to be complete the end of August 2020 due to accommodating summer school.
Montessori Elementary Academy is undergoing the most labor-intensive renovations, with the original 1927 and 1940s additions being demolished and a new building addition being erected.
For the time being, all Montessori elementary students are utilizing the space leased from the city at the old River Falls Journal building on Prairie View Drive.
All school building construction floor plans are available for public viewing on the River Falls School District website under “Referendum/ Floor Plans and Details” page.
Ayers Associates managed architecture while Kraus Anderson managed construction, both area companies. Total Excavation, Steiner Plumbing and Electric and B & B Electric also worked on site.
“We’re proud and pleased to have been able to work with local companies on many of our construction projects as we recognize that employing local businesses is a good thing for those families, employers and economy,” Benson said.
A snapshot of the district’s floor plan focus for each building:
Three full-sized classrooms
Repurpose and enlarge 1990s classrooms
Library Media Center and flexible space
Office, counselor and nurse spaces
Outdoor classroom addition
Add large flexible learning space for:
STEM, robotics, Lego league, instruction, cafeteria, kids club, etc.
Add one special education smaller classroom
Add four regular full-sized classrooms
Refurbished gym floor and lighting
Rocky Branch Elementary
Add large flexible learning space for similar to Greenwood
Add two special education/ELL smaller classrooms
Add one regular full-sized classroom
Add flexible learning space for similar to Greenwood
Remove 1978 portable classrooms
Add two special education/OT/PT/ELL smaller classrooms
Add one regular full-sized classroom
Meyer Middle School
Air conditioning to be done summer 2020
Four science labs updates
Auditorium updated next year
South parking lot replaced, now parent traffic controlled
Library media center updated
Roof replacement in two sections
Tennis courts replaced (new pickleball, tennis, basketball courts)
Shop/ tech/ STEM upgrade, waiting on new technology
Improved student break-out area/ 21st century flexi-space
Auditorium lighting and sound systems
Roof replacement in one section
Tennis courts resurfaced
Swimming pool upgrades
Weight room upgrades
Resurface running tracks indoor and outdoor