The Bemidji School Board is back on track for a November vote. During Monday’s meeting, the board chose a voter referendum this fall that would approve plans to build a new school based off of the plans from Lincoln Elementary. The new school would be built on land already owned by the district near Bemidji High School, or on a new plot of land by Bemidji Middle School.
Board members discussed two options for the referendum. One would build a new K-5 school for 550 students. The second option would build a new 4-5 school for 900 students. Both options would address the issue of elementary classroom space, fix the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units at Bemidji Middle School, and cover operating expenses.
Most board members supported the second option. John Pugleasa said, “I think the 4-5 is a better option because it gives us room to grow.” Melissa Bahr also favored the second option because she thinks it will build confidence for middle school. Bahr said, “I think it will give them a little more boost to help them get into that middle school. Some people are scared of middle school, but it will give them confidence.”
Jeff Haack disagreed with the rest of the board and said he was hesitant about building a school that large. “I would rather ask for the right school twice rather than the wrong school once.”
The board voted in favor of option two, approving plans to build a $30 million dollar school for fourth and fifth graders. Bemidji Area Schools will now submit their plans to the Minnesota Department of Education so that they can be approved for the November election.