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The process of rebuilding north campus

After months of sitting vacant, plans for demo and rebuilding are started

In the month between the day of the explosion at the Upper School campus and the first day of school, an astonishing amount of work was done. Getting the Mendota Heights school up and running in four weeks was an incredible feat. Now that two months have passed since school began, however, plans for the reconstruction of north campus are being made.

The first and biggest question for many people is how long until the school is rebuilt? According to Jason Wenschlag, the principal of the Upper School, the earliest students may be moving back is fall next year.

“Obviously we want to do it as soon as possible,” said Wenschlag. “But something like this takes a long time because decisions have to be made about a number of really important factors. I think the earliest scenario is the start of the next school year. Next fall. That would be the earliest. I’m not saying that’s going to happen. I’m just saying that if everything fell into place perfectly, that would be ideal. We would be able to move in by the start of next year.’

On the other end of the spectrum, the latest students may be moving back to North Campus is two years from now.

“Realistically, I think it’s going to be longer than [a year],” said Wenschlag. “We have a two year lease here. We’re thinking at the most it’s going to be two years, at the earliest, one year. Maybe something in between, maybe over winter break next year.”

Dan Bowles, the Executive Director of Finance and Operations at Minnehaha, agreed with Wenschlag on this, saying that one to two years is “what we’re aiming for.”

The process of reconstruction involves some demolition of the older buildings, according to Wenschlag, but the other buildings are okay.

“The Fine Arts wing, and the Athletics wing are in good condition,” Wenschlag explained. “They’re safe. Actually, we could go use them right now. But [only] one has electricity, they don’t have gas, they don’t have water. So all those utilities are going to have to be restored to one or both of the buildings, but it’s going to be really expensive. So, if we’re not able to use them, then maybe we don’t invest in it right away, maybe we just mothball it, which means protect it for the winter.”

Whether students will be moving back in one year or two, whether north campus is made drastically different or remains mostly the same, Wenschlag made it clear he was certain of this: “No matter what we decide about our school and the ‘whats’ and the ‘hows’ and the ‘wheres’ and all those things, no matter what we do we want to create a space that fits for our kids and our culture.”

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About Patrick Cullinan

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