MAPLETON, Minn. • Kraus-Anderson has begun construction on a new $63 million K-12 school for the Maple River School District in Paleton, Minn,

Located on the south side of Mapleton near County Highway 7, the school will serve students in the rural communities of Amboy, Good Thunder, Mapleton and Minnesota Lake in southern Minnesota. The porject, according to a news release by the company, is part of a long-range facilities plan funded by a $63.3 million bond referendum passed in February 2020.

Construction is expected to be completed in fall 2022.

The centralized campus will have balanced classroom sizes and equal access to resources and support. The improved learning environment will enhance students’ interactive, collaborative and social learning experience and prepare them for the changing workforce.

In addition, accorsing to the news release, students, staff and community members will benefit from improved air quality, accessibility and safety with a modern-day learning environment.

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Designed by ISG Architects, the campus will feature a two-story, 185,000-square-foot school with new classrooms, administration offices, three gymnasiums, playgrounds, kitchen, cafe and 500-seat auditorium.

The learning spaces will be organized around an elementary wing that includes early childhood classrooms and a separate middle/high school wing that includes ag science and career and tech classrooms. Outdoor spaces will include new parking lots, retention ponds, walking paths and playfields for outdoor learning programs for all students.

Maple River is among many rural communities that are facing the challenges of declining student enrollment as family farms are evolving into large, commercial enterprises. In addition, some of the district’s facilities are over 90 years old. This led to the district’s first referendum vote in 2015.

“In its fourth attempt, the referendum passed this past February by just six votes,” said Kraus-Anderson’s Gary Benson, who along with KA’s Tony Sjolander, worked closely with the district. “We conducted a community survey providing four different project options to find the right solution for the area. We also helped navigate through Minnesota’s AG-2 School Tax Credit, which helps alleviate the tax burden for farmers who own large plots of land.

“The new legislation helps pay for more than half of the bond, a resource which helped garner support from landowners who would have seen the largest tax increase.”