New Alternative Learning Center will be double current size

Posted 3/30/22

By John McLoone The Hastings School District Board of Education heard a presentation at its meeting last Wednesday night on plans to remodel a portion of Hastings High School to house the Alternative …

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New Alternative Learning Center will be double current size


By John McLoone

The Hastings School District Board of Education heard a presentation at its meeting last Wednesday night on plans to remodel a portion of Hastings High School to house the Alternative Learning Center. Later in the meeting, it unanimously approved the construction bid for the project to get underway this summer for completion by the start of the 2022-23 school year.

The ALC is now located in downtown Hast- ings, and the district pays $34,000 annually to rent the 3,400-square-foot facility from the City of Hastings. Director of Business Jen Seubert explained that the current high school was built for 2,000 students, and it now houses 1,400, meaning there’s room to move the ALC on-site.

The ALC will be built in the remodeled “Pod C” in the high school, and will have a separate entrance from outside, but will also allow for teacher and student movement in the building.

Seubert said the renovation will allow the district to double the size of the ALC to 6,900square-feet.

“We have students on a waiting list to attend the ALC,” she said, noting that 30-40 Hastings students attend other outside programs, which costs the district approximately $250,000 annually.

“We’re able to serve more of our students by doing this,” she said.

Eight ALC students joined staff and Wold Architects in planning the new facility.

The facility includes classrooms, breakout rooms, a kitchen area, its own bathrooms and space for the students to gather when they are done with their work.

Sal Bagley of Wold Architects said, “It’s just under 7,000 square feet so that’s double the space they have today, so that’s a huge improvement.”

The new ALC will include:

•Four 16-student classrooms.

•One art/science classroom.

•Administrative spaces.

•Flex rooms and spaces. There are currently two doors into the C-pod from the main building. One will be closed off, and the other will remain, which allows for meals and deliveries from the high school. Also, some staff teach both in the ALC and high school, and ALC students can take regular high school classes as well.

The main entrance from outside opens to a secure reception area.

“The student experience was very specifically designed around the idea of having a dedicated main entry,” said Bagley, pointing to drawings of the facility. “We actually went out on-site and toured the space with the students and staff, and they identified that as being their preferred entrance for a variety of reasons. There’s kind of a nice green space right outside. There’s kind of a gathering space. There’s availably parking very nearby. Most importantly, it’s out of sight of the main high school entry, and that was a really top criteria for some students. They feel like they’re going to a different program than the high school, and that’s why they’re at the ALS.”

“They had a strong criteria for us that this should feel different from the rest of the high school and maybe not look like the high school at all. So we worked with them on those concepts,” said Bagley.

The construction budget approved with Loeffler Construction for the ALC project was $1,184,700.

High School Principal Interviews

Superintendent Dr. Robert McDowell reported that there were 18 applicants for the Hastings High School Principal job that was posted upon the retirement of Mike Johnson in February, who served 18 years in the post. Interim principal is Scott Doran, who served as assistant high school principal..

Interviews were scheduled for this week with a second and third round of interviews scheduled for next week.

“We’ve got two committees that are organized made up of students, parents and staff and then a third committee that is administration,” said McDowell. “There will be a fairly significant vetting process to get us to a final decision. We have a good pool to choose from.”

Bond website

The district has a link on its website for residents to see accomplishments on projects from the 2017 bond referendum.

“We’ve published a bond website that anybody can take a look at. It shows all the great things that have been accomplished so far due to the community’s commitment and support to our schools, our students and our staff from that 2017 bond,” said McDowell. “We’ll have future projects listed there as well. We’ll be updating that as we move along, and the intent is to provide a by-site update that has pictures as things get done. We thought it was important to start really showing everybody what has happened with those dollars that were given by the community to the schools.”

The referendum allowed district bonding in the amount of $49.5 million “for some level of improvement at all schools in the district,” the bond website states.

The website is viewable at: services/finance/bond_project_updates Personnel

Retirements were approved of Leslie Burgess (high school Spanish), Keri Cottom (health services) Nicholas Dressen (high school English), Linda Gunter (administrative support assistant) and Janel Knutson (middle school langue arts and social studies). The resignation of Greg Sandkamp, cross country * Nordic Ski coach was accepted.

The board later in the meeting also voted unanimously to on a resolution of non-renewal to Tim Duggan as head coach of the girls hockey team.

Drawing courtesy of Wold Architects.