A history of TCGIS’s search for space
This is a look back at the conversation about the need for more classroom space at TCGIS. If you’d like to know what paths lay ahead for the school, skip ahead to the “Options” section of the website.
At a strategic retreat in 2014, the TCGIS School Board said it was largely satisfied with the space it had at the former St. Andrew’s church at 1031 Como Ave., the school’s home since the 2013-14 school year. The classroom spaces were considered “clean, bright, colorful and modern.”
Under the category of long-range planning, the board studied the possibility of adding a second campus. That idea was eventually deemed unworkable.
In 2015, as more middle school students stayed and the school’s student population grew, the board appointed a task force on Oct. 22 to “research and assess the demand for current facilities and analyze data to consider demand on current facilities.” This was the Student Growth and Access Taskforce, and its members included TCGIS staff, TCGIS parents and one prospective parent.
In February 2016, the Facilities Committee released a report on the coming space crunch at TCGIS. The report said that by the 2017-18 school year, the school’s population would exceed the school’s original design. To accommodate the students, a new room would need to be converted into a classroom each year: first the science classroom, then the computer lab, then flex room 100, followed by flex room 102, and finally, in the 2020-21 school year, the staff lounge. The report also looked at the school’s budget and determined that TCGIS could afford to finance an 18,000 sq. ft. project in the 2019-20 time frame.
A year later, at the January, 2017, board meeting, long and short term space plans were identified as a needed discussion for an upcoming Jan. 28, 2017, board retreat. “Vision by the Board is needed for long term.”
At the February, 2017 board meeting, the facilities committee update included a basic discussion of what’s needed, including a “Wish List” item of replacing the inefficient building with something new. The list was needed to send to Deb Rathman, the architect.
The Facilities Committee continued to look at the school’s space needs at its March 2017 meeting (1) (2), noting at the time that $1.8 million plus the cost of the property would buy the school the classroom and staff spaces it needs, but not the extra gymnasium or cafeteria space.
In April of 2017, the Student Growth and Access Taskforce delivered its final report, a mixed accomplishment that included hard data on some aspects of the issue, but was accompanied by a note from the task force expressing frustration at the process it took part in.
The basic shape of the proposed building plan was taking shape at the April, 2017 meeting (1) (2), when real estate developer Karl Jentoft of the Tensquare Group said a bond issue for $4.8 million was possible. Architect Deb Rathman, who was responsible for TCGIS’s first addition at 1031 Como Ave., said that amount of bonding would fund about 21,000 sq. ft. of construction.
At the May 9, 2017, board meeting, there was little recorded. Karl Jentoft was talking to neighboring properties, hoping to find one that TCGIS could buy. Board member Burkhard Thiessen told the other board members: “We should have a plan, if a property comes up for sale, we should be able to have our ducks in a row and be able to act faster…”
At the June 13, 2017, facilities committee meeting, the committee was still preparing itself to buy properties adjacent to 1031 Como Avenue.
At the Aug. 30, 2017, board meeting, there was no discussion of the facilities committee or the search for a new building.
The September 26, 2017, board packet included basic sketches of several options for more space (option 3 and sketch) (option 7 and sketch) (option 8 and sketch) (option 9 and sketch) (option 10 and sketch), all plans showing TCGIS building on its current footprint.
In its Oct. 10, 2017, meeting (1) (2), the facilities committee included their reviews of the Church of St. Bernard, (about two miles east of TCGIS at 187 Geranium Ave. W.), and the Mission Orthodox Presbyterian Church, (across the street from the Aula at 1040 Como Ave.)
Questions asked of the board included “How do we maximize our space?” “What are the amenities we need?” and “Clarity about the debt we can service.”
Plans to include Mission Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 1040 Como Ave., came to an end because the church was not willing to sell.
The Church of St. Bernard’s option was not pursued because a) it was only available for lease; and b) it was not big enough to house the entire school; so c) the cost of a split campus was deemed too high.
The Nov. 14, 2017, Facilities Committee meeting (1) (2) included a review of Metro Deaf School at 1471 Brewster Ave., about one mile west of TCGIS. This opportunity was not pursued due to extremely limited outdoor / playground space and a parking lot that would create an extremely challenging pickup/dropoff scenario for the TCGIS community.
On March 6, 2018, the facilities committee held a “Listening Session” to talk about construction plans. Along with about 25 parents and staff, a representative from District 10 attended the meeting, and afterwards he reported back to District 10 that the school planned to replace the Aula. This was the beginning of some neighborhood opposition to TCGIS plans.
At its March 13, 2018, meeting (1) (2) (3), the facilities committee began sending out paperwork for a proposed building project that included replacing the Aula and building new construction on the school’s footprint. Contractors were interviewed, and architect Deb Rathman began conversations with key user groups of the new building. Also, plans to purchase a house adjacent to the school on Van Slyke were cancelled.
At its April 10, 2018, meeting (1) (2) (3), the facilities committee began more in-depth work related to the proposed building plan of replacing the Aula and building on-site. Some of the issues under consideration included where to hold gym classes during construction and food safety during construction.
The TCGIS School Board sent a letter to the Minnesota Department of Education on April 19 outlining its plans for a new addition, saying it would cost $6.3 million in tax-exempt bonds. The letter, and accompanying documents, spell out the school’s argument that it needs to build a new wing. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
The facilities committee held listening sessions on April 22 to talk about construction plans at TCGIS, and offered a historical recap of the decision.
The May 8, 2018, facilities committee meeting (1) (2) (3) included discussion about a communication plan, more in-depth planning for construction, following up with neighbors, and the cons of delaying construction.
At the May 23 TCGIS School Board meeting, the facilities committee chair said a new option had presented itself. It was later revealed to be Central Lutheran school at 775 Lexington Parkway North. The school was examined by RJM Construction, which prepared an estimate on what it would cost to upgrade the building for TCGIS. Original Bid from RJM, Revised bid from RJM and second bid from Rochon.