Options

The TCGIS Facilities and Finance Committees met jointly on July 17th, 2018 to discuss options to solve the space needs of the school.  Attendance at the meeting included a mix of 40-50 parents and neighborhood residents. The Pro/Hopes and Cons/Fears were gathered from all parties at this meeting. The list is NOT meant to be exhaustive or definitive but reflects viewpoints of those present.  The objective is to listen to the voices of all stakeholders and to share the various points of view regarding the proposed options. Please consider sharing your feedback and ask any questions you might have.

 
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Replace and rebuild at current location

Replace the Aula and construct an addition containing a gymnasium, cafeteria and classrooms within its footprint. While the Aula remains a charming building, after 5 years of usage, our experience is that a purpose-built gym space that maximizes usable space with lower operating costs would better meet our programming needs.  See details of this plan here.  

Pros/Hopes:

> Improved student safety:

  • The floor of the Aula has terrazzo directly under the gym floor - it is not constructed like contemporary gym floors - falling on it is similar to falling on concrete.

  • The niches and choir loft provide ample opportunity for an ill-intentioned adult to be alone with a student.

  • The sharp corners and raised floor that remain from the building’s former life injure several students every year.

> Financial and Environmental responsibility:

  • Removes +/- $1M of planned maintenance and upgrades from TCGIS’s budget projections

  • The Aula is essentially uninsulated and is very expensive to heat

  • The ratio of exterior wall to usable square footage is extremely inefficient - stairwells on the east side, the south entry vestibule and the balcony are part of why over 25% of the Aula’s footprint is educationally unusable space.  

  • Cost effective solution

  • Lowers operating costs for school

  • Financial security in building fund and maintain covenants and bonding requirements

> Improves quality of spaces for kids teachers

  • Art can happen in an art room instead of on a cart

  • Special education and ADSIS support can happen in appropriate rooms

  • Physical education can happen in an actual gym

  • More windows

  • Excitement around new facility

  • Maintains integrity of existing program

  • Physical appearance of building would be secular

  • Add more playground space by removing small parking lot next to current playground.

> Accelerated real estate sales

> Cements TCGIS place in the community

> Ability to host community events for Como neighborhood

Cons/Fears:

> Construction disruption on neighborhood, families and staff (Proposed construction timeline June 2019-January 2020)

> A major construction project will create administrative and operational stresses.

> Concern that spending more than $6 million will not add $6 million to the value of the property

> Concern that the current site does not have adequate space for over 600 students and 100 teachers, especially for outdoor activities.

> Delays to project

  • TCGIS might need to apply for variances for parking and lot coverage

  • Neighbors opposed to TCGIS’s project could delay and/or increase cost due to potential legal actions

  • Scheduling impact due to variance delays

  • Variance challenges could impact bonding approval by HRA Board

  • Cost increases due to delays and risks

> Neighborhood relations

  • Potential worsening of relationship between TCGIS and neighbors

  • Traffic concerns remain

  • Divisions among neighbors remain strained

> Building

  • Loss of craftsmanship quality construction

  • Possibly lose architecture by St. Paul architect

  • Neighborhood/parent fear that Aula will be removed and then TCGIS will leave in the future anyway.

  • Loss of history by removing Aula

> Historic designation of building

  • fear that historic preservation would halt option

> Accelerated real estate sales

> No additional outdoor space

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Central Lutheran School

Central Lutheran School (CLS) is located at 775 Lexington Parkway, about ¾ mile SSW of the current campus. Built in 1950’s, it is a 3.4 acre site (full city block) with an approximately 27,000sf classroom building. 16 available classroom size rooms.  The earliest TCGIS could move to the Central Lutheran campus would be fall 2019. More information can be found here.

While the goal with this option is to have a single K-8 campus, TCGIS may have to operate a split campus until the Como Ave location sells.  Operating a split campus is financially unaffordable without increasing class sizes and could only be sustained for 2-3 years due to the projected maintenance costs associated with owning multiple old buildings.

Pros/Hopes:

> Size of site

  • Rare opportunity to purchase attractively priced full city block in St Paul in close proximity to existing location.

  • The site is large enough that TCGIS could relocate the entire K-8 campus to CLS, contingent upon the sale of the Como Ave location

  • Nearly double the size of our current campus with enough green space for a playground + regulation athletic field.

  • Larger playground provides noise buffer

> Proximity

  • Close to TCGIS

  • Close to Central High School

> Gym

> It is for sale

> Based on current Letter of Intent to Purchase, Central Lutheran is available to TCGIS at a competitive price.

> Nice stage

> Neighborhood impact

  • Splitting buildings eases traffic in Como neighborhood

  • Good-will building with Como neighborhood

  • Avoids negative Como neighbor response to other option

  • Not having construction at Como park

> Higher visibility on Lexington Parkway

> Clear main entry at CLS

> Potential to provide similar Pro/Hopes as replacing Aula regarding programming, special education, art, gym, drama, safety, energy efficiency, etc.

Cons/Fears:

> Leaving Como neighborhood

> A major construction project will create administrative and operational stresses.

> The existing CLS building has 16 classrooms and 27,000sf. TCGIS needs approximately 35 classrooms size rooms and approximately 75,000sf.

> A split campus may be possible for 2-3 years, with K-5 at the current Como Park site and grades 6-8 at CLS...but a split campus is projected to increase TCGIS’s operating expenses by approximately $175,000 annually.  Current estimates show that TCGIS will go from an operating surplus of +/- $200K to a surplus of $5-20K the first year; after that with no changes, TCGIS will have negative operating budget the following year (by law, TCGIS cannot have a negative operating budget). Operating expenses pay for things like books, field trips, and (most importantly) teacher salaries and benefits.  See in-depth budget info here. Temporarily increasing class sizes from 24 to 25/26 kids until the school is back together on one location is one way to make this option work.

> Owning two sites

  • If we can’t sell the Como Ave location, TCGIS is stuck with two campuses, which cannot be sustained without increasing class sizes.

  • Sale price of Como Ave location could be too low and not fit within our timeline.

  • Maintenance fees/rehab costs at CLS are estimates and could be higher than expected.

> Split Campus

  • Increasing class sizes to afford split campus (25-26 kids per class)

  • Impact to staff morale and retention

  • During the split, older kids and younger kids won’t interact

  • Impact to kids

> It is not for sale forever

> Transaction costs of buying a different property reduce money available for building improvements and upgrades

> Fear of unknowns

  • This is a new option and projections are based on assumptions

  • New lease aid rules could impact lease aid available to TCGIS

  • Unknown future construction cost risk of CLS

  • May need parking variance - only 10 spots there

  • Unknowns of a new site

  • Risk of not being able to build on CLS

  • Risk of not being able to abate ALL hazardous material

>Accessing CLS from Lexington is restricted by turn lanes and the median

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Make no changes to current campus

Aula and classroom building would remain in current configuration.

Pros/Hopes:

> We would have the option to thoughtfully and strategically keep the numbers from growing until we stabilize teacher and EA retention and address learning issues with students.

> Spend on classroom building to improve temperature control

> Neighborhood is happier

> Potential future preservation of Aula

> Maintain historic character of neighborhood

> No construction disruption

> Showing how a school can use a historic building

> Could make more playground space

Cons/Fears:

> Fear of sustaining operations in building without enough space

> Families leave because limited space

> Teacher/Staff morale suffer

>Negative impact on future bond ratings

  • Teacher retention

  • Dwindling waiting list

  • Increases financing costs

> Negative impact on student learning

  • Special education and ADSIS support continues in inadequate spaces
  • Poor phy-ed space in Aula/cafeteria

  • Art on a cart

  • Lunch time starting early (10:45am), lunch time too late (12:55pm)

  • Aula bathrooms limited

  • Aula inadequate performance space

> Maintenance estimates could be higher than expected

> Historic preservation increases administrative costs and responsibilities (monitoring work, writing grant applications, increased need for architectural or historic consultants)

> Wasted spaces remain (bell tower, choir loft, stairwells)

> Unsafe areas of Aula remain (niches, choir loft and hard floor)

> Existing traffic concerns remain

> Potential decrease in property value if historically designated

> Potential worsening of relationship between TCGIS and neighbors

> TCGIS leaves neighborhood and site is vacant

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