- Westwood Elementary School
Project Update: Prairie View, Parking Lots and Preparation for 2022-23
When voters approved the historic levy and bond questions in the 2019 election, a few, core projects emerged as the centerpieces to some wide changes across ISD 728.
They include renovations and updates to athletic and activity areas at all three traditional high schools; the construction of a new middle school in Otsego on the Prairie View campus; reconstruction and renovation of Lincoln Elementary and VandenBerge Middle schools; restoration, renovation and updates at the Handke Family Center.
In addition to those seven projects, the District also promised to update roofs, parking lots, entrances, flooring, painting and more around ISD 728 through a myriad of other projects over a 10 year period.
“We are so grateful for the support the community has shown us both at the polls three years ago now and throughout the past three years as we’ve embarked on these major projects,” said Superintendent Dan Bittman. “It’s journey, and we do it together. But we truly couldn’t have done this without the patience of our staff, families and students and the hard work of our construction workers and partners.”
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the projects as of August 1, 2022, nearly three years after voters approved the District’s bond referendum.
From track to multi-purpose fields, bleacher improvements to restrooms and concessions, all three high schools saw huge improvements at their stadiums throughout the 2021-2022 school year. These facilities host a variety of men and women programs throughout ISD 728, and are used nearly every day, night, and weekend throughout the year.
While much of the “up front” work is complete, more improvements at those facilities continue this summer, including accessibility ramps, so-called “punch list” items and plans for future entrance and storage improvements at Zimmerman High School and Rogers High School.
Scoreboard updates were also made, thanks to our Cornerstone Sponsors – The Bank of Elk River and Rol-Air Plumbing and Heating.
Inside, facilities at Rogers High and Zimmerman Middle/High School have seen major renovations, including the weight rooms, a performance gymnasium at RHS and a wrestling area at Zimmerman. Many ISD 728 activities will have improved areas for practices, performance, and training due to the support of our students, families and community members.
VandenBerge Middle School
Work over the summer of 2021 saw major improvements to common areas in the school building, as well as locker updates, offices, and new paint and flooring.
Interior work has also included the pool surface and deck area, as well as locker areas.
This summer, as Elk River residents have noticed, major changes are under construction for the VMS bus loop, parking lot and entrances too.
Much of the parking lot reconstruction and pavement will be done before the end of August. Sidewalks, gutters and curbs will also be poured throughout the month.
The hope is the newly designed lot will be safer for parent drop-off/pick-up at the busy intersection of Proctor Avenue Northeast and School Street.
Handke Family Center
Construction in the home of ISD 728’s Community Education and Early Childhood programs started in 2020-2021 and continued throughout the pandemic with asbestos abatement and preliminary planning for reconstruction of the south wing of the building.
Other projects include the cleaning and restoration of the “stack” chimney on the top of the “old” main building, a major roof repair and patching and some restoration work after heavy rains in May 2022 flooded classrooms on the southwest side of the building.
Our construction partners at Wold Architects have worked with staff and administrators at the Handke Family Center for the renovation project, which will kick off next year.
Lincoln Elementary School
Lincoln Elementary is having preliminary work done this summer (2022) on security improvements, parking lot renovation, stormwater drainage and more in preparation for major reconstruction and renovation planned for 2023.
Wold Architects and construction partners have been working with staff and administration on comprehensive plans for the building, including teachers within the Lincoln building, as classrooms will be renovated, common spaces updated (including activity areas) and a change to the main entrance and offices within the school.
More plans will be communicated in the near future.
Prairie View Elementary School
The centerpiece of the 2019 referendum is the new Prairie View Middle School, which will open with more than 800 students in the new building.
That makes two, new, state-of-the-art facilities for Otsego area families on the southwest side of the community, serving more than 1,500 students and early elementary learners as the former E-8 building transitions to an elementary school with an early education wing (preschool).
"Can you imagine trying to squeeze more than 1500 students into one school? We are grateful our community supported the plan when they did, or things would have been much more challenging," Bittman said.
The new building will host Grades 5, 6, 7 and 8 as grade configuration changes on the south end of the District were made due to historic growth. It will have a state-of-the-art media center, open spaces for group and individual learning, specialist areas for FACS and science classes as well as art and music areas, and a state-approved storm shelter in one of the gymnasium areas.
Principal Julie Athman comes to the school from Salk STEM Middle School in Elk River and has been with ISD 728 for more than 25 years.
Prairie View Middle will officially open to students with WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) Orientation from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Wednesday, August 24 for students in Grade 5 and WEB Orientation for students in Grade 6 from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m., on that same date. Activities to welcome students and help them become familiar with each other and the building will occur at that time. Tours, locker introductions, and activities will be provided for all involved. More info is coming soon.
Prairie View Middle Open House, for all students Grades 5 through 8, will be held Thursday, September 1, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Open House will occur from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. for families with last names beginning with A-H, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. for last names I through Q and from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for last names R-Z.
For more information: