Wrenshall school officials are currently in the midst of approving and executing the first steps of some major changes in the school district.

Arguably the largest project on the district agenda is Phase II of the renovations of the school building. With construction bids received Thursday, March 11, the project is now scheduled to start by the end of the month.

The lowest bid for the renovations came from Adolfson & Peterson Construction, with a base amount of approximately $3.5 million.

During a Wrenshall School Board meeting Monday, March 15, Superintendent Kimberly Belcastro shared praise for the company and encouraged board members to accept the bid.

“I think we’ll be really pleased with them,” she said. “We should feel really fortunate that we’re able to have them with us.”

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The construction will be funded through a general obligation facilities maintenance bond not to exceed $965,000. Any funds owed from a bond will be paid off using existing district funds, and will not affect taxpayers, according to Belcastro.

Construction at the Wrenshall school building began in summer 2020. (Photo courtesy of the Wrenshall School District)
Construction at the Wrenshall school building began in summer 2020. (Photo courtesy of the Wrenshall School District)

Phase II is incorporated into the district's 10-year long-term facilities maintenance plan. It includes changes to the pool, gym, industrial and cafeteria areas of the building, as well as the addition of a multipurpose room.

Adolfson & Peterson Construction, based in the Twin Cities area, with a Duluth office as well, offered a 77-day timeline for the project. It will immediately begin work in spaces where students are not currently learning, such as the pool area.

The School Board is set to meet again the evening of Thursday, March 18, to review the bid in further detail and choose whether to accept the offer.

Belcastro said it is highly likely they will accept and construction will start as soon as possible.

Proposed administration changes

Another change likely to occur in the district is the restructuring of school administration.

Wrenshall currently operates with two administratives roles: a superintendent and a dean of students.

The structure was implemented in 2012 as a cost-saving measure, according to Belcastro, who now believes it is time to start looking at things differently.

She recently proposed eliminating the dean of students role, and implementing a full-time K-12 principal position at the school.

The move would shift Belcastro from filling both roles of principal and superintendent to focusing solely on administrative duties.

It would ultimately save the district approximately $10,000, according to business manager Angela Anderson.

Belcastro said she feels they need a “jumpstart” after experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, and said she is confident about enrollment numbers and the district’s capability.

“I really have a vision for the Wrenshall School District,” she said, explaining that her time is currently stretched too thin.

The board plans to vote on the subject within the next couple meetings.