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Growth leading CMCS to consider new elementary in Prinsburg

Submitted This rendering by Marcus Construction shows the Central Minnesota Christian School campus with a proposed elementary school to replace the existing facility. Members of the CMCS society will vote Oct. 21 on whether to go ahead with a $6.5 million building project and capital campaign for it.

PRINSBURG — With steady growth in enrollment, the Central Minnesota Christian School in Prinsburg is looking at building a new elementary/middle school building.

Members of the Central Minnesota Christian School Society will be voting Oct. 21 whether to approve a $6.5 million capital campaign and building project.

A school leadership team is proposing that CMCS build a new facility to replace the elementary school and adopt a middle school educational model on its campus in Prinsburg. The proposal calls for a preschool through eighth-grade facility offering two classrooms per grade, according to information presented at a meeting held last week for the public.

There is already $4.7 million pledged to the capital campaign. The campaign will go public if society members vote to go forward.

Enrollment has grown by 28 percent over the past five years, with more than 400 students currently in the school system, according to Tricia Nelson, capital campaign coordinator.

The growth has occurred across the grades, but is greatest in the lower grades. With a retention rate of 98 to 99 percent, the school is anticipating a growing need for additional space in the years ahead. An analysis by Marcus Construction and architects with Widseth, Smith and Nolting have identified a need for 32,000 to 38,000 square feet.

Along with more classroom space, the project may include adding more "flexible" space, or areas that can be used for different purposes. The school is also looking at possibly providing space for music, library, and remedial instruction in the new facility.

The goal is to create a "campus feel" with the high school building, according to information presented at the meeting.

A building project would also allow the district to address the inefficiencies inherent in the older portions of the current elementary school and adopt the middle school educational model. Some of the older portions of the elementary school would be razed.

If society members approve going forward with the project, the school will host opportunities for input from members of the society. Nelson emphasized that planning at this point is preliminary, and that public input will be very important.

Support from members allowed the school to undertake a $10 million project to expand and improve the high school beginning in 2014. The school has no debt remaining from the project. If a new project is approved, Nelson said the school would not begin work until 80 percent of the needed funds and in-kind support is committed.

If things go as hoped, the first work could begin in the latter part of 2018.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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