Chisholm school leaders share $32 million upgrade plans

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 5:04 PM CST
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CHISHOLM, MN. (Northern News Now) -- Across the Iron Range, districts are working to improve school facilities, including in Chisholm.

With a $32 million referendum recently passed, Chisholm school leaders are now sharing their upgrade plans.

Chisholm Elementary is more than 100 years old, and the Vaughn Steffensrud Elementary School is across town.

Thanks to the district’s referendum passed last fall, those schools will soon be no more.

“The current elementary schools that we have, there’s quite a bit of money tied up into getting them where they need to be as far as repairs, so you take that money and put it towards something good,” said Facilities & Grounds Operations Manager Mike Fredeen. “Just kind of bring it up to the 21st century with a new building and facilities.”

The current elementary schools will be permanently closed, with the new campus being added to the high school which would keep all students under one roof.

A new competition gym and office spaces will also be built, something Elementary Principal Karla Winter is eager to see.

“Just an exciting opportunity to have a brand new building and that the community members responded favorably to have that, and I do think it will be such a good thing to have all of our students on one campus,” Winter said.

Taking inspiration from other Iron Range schools, Chisholm’s project team is visiting other new school facilities like Rock Ridge Elementary in Eveleth and East Elementary in Grand Rapids.

7th Grade History Teacher and Athletic Director Travis Vake said he thinks the changes will bolster the community.

“Having a new and updated building to attract students, to attract families, and to keep families here is also a big deal nowadays,” Vake said.

According to district leaders, the referendum is not only going to help with facilities but expand curriculum as well, including updated computer and tech labs, robotics, e-sport opportunities, and technology classes.

The project is currently in the design phase.

Construction bids will be in October with work scheduled to start in Spring 2024.

The new facilities are scheduled to open in Fall of 2025.