Work underway on ISD 623 building improvements

Little Canada Mayor John Keis discussed his city’s relationship with Little Canada Elementary School Sept. 12, where students performed a ceremonial groundbreaking on an addition to their school. The event marked the start of construction on a Roseville Area Schools district-wide building improvement plan, made possible by a $144 million bond approved by voters in November 2017. photo: Mike Munzenrider

The whole Little Canada Elementary School student body turned out for the Sept. 12 groundbreaking. photo: Mike Munzenrider

Little Canada Mayor John Keis, Little Canada City Administrator Chris Heineman, Roseville Area School Board members Todd Anderson and Curtis Johnson, Principal Garin Bogenholm and board member Kitty Gogins joined the student ground-breakers for a photo after the big event. photo: Mike Munzenrider

Anderson, Johnson, Heineman, Keis and Gogins took their turn with the shovels. photo: Mike Munzenrider

Principal Garin Bogenholm told those assembled that enrollment at Little Canada Elementary School had nearly doubled in his 10 years there. photo: Mike Munzenrider

Summer stuck around just long enough for students to break ground on an addition to Little Canada Elementary School on a warm Sept. 12 afternoon.

The kids’ ceremonial turning of dirt — professional crews began work in earnest the next day — marked the first construction carried out with funds from the $144 million building bond voters approved for the Roseville Area School District last fall.

The groundbreaking, attended by Superintendent Dr. Aldo Sicoli, school board members and Little Canada Mayor John Keis, was the first in a series that will kick off updates and expansions of all the district’s buildings.

Sicoli thanked the community and school board for the building bond, which was the district’s first big ask for facilities money in more than two decades. 

Some $3.5 million are going into improving Little Canada Elementary, according to the district. Work will include improving the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, renovating teaching spaces and adding a music room and more classroom capacity, five new classrooms in all.

Principal Garin Bogenholm said when he started at the school a decade ago its enrollment was 328 students. It has nearly doubled to 596 kids, and he said next year’s enrollment will easily eclipse 600.

“We have had to be really creative with space,” said Bogenholm. Computer labs were used as classrooms and closets were converted into offices, he said, in order to keep up with enrollment leaps that could be 40 to 50 students each year. “[This is] an opportunity to grow and expand and meet the needs of the growing community.”

The 14 students who participated in the groundbreaking — a boy and a girl from each grade at the school, kindergarten through sixth — tossed turf in the same spot at the back of the school where the additional classrooms will be built. 

Bogenholm said the outdoor construction should be complete by around the time snow flies before work turns inside for renovations. If everything goes as planned, the school should be updated and ready to go by the time classes start next fall.


More ground to break

The district is holding a Wednesday, Oct. 3, community meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the Roseville Area High School auditorium to discuss project timelines at all the district’s buildings and to share drawings of the planned work. District staffers will also answer questions.

The next groundbreaking event will also be at RAHS on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. The school building, formerly home of Alexander Ramsey High School, is receiving the bulk of the bond money, nearly $67 million, according to the district.

Work there will include security and HVAC improvements, replacement or improvement of existing science labs, expansion of common areas, improvements of athletic spaces indoors and out, and the addition of classroom space to accommodate 300 more students. Construction is slated to be complete by fall 2021.

While RAHS is getting extensive improvements, the district has chosen to rebuild the Fairview Community Center.

District Communication Supervisor Carrie Ardito said that once the bond money came through, the district was able to conduct more in-depth studies of its buildings. A closer look at Fairview turned up “concerns about [its] long-term viability,” and plans were changed to make way for a new facility.

The community center, which Sicoli attended while it was still a middle school, will be rebuilt for nearly $13 million. Reconstruction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2020 and run through the fall of 2021.


Crowded schedule

In between the beginning of work at RAHS and the community center, construction will kick off at Brimhall, Edgerton and Central Park schools in December. Each elementary school is slated for roughly $4 million of improvements.

Work at Parkview Center School and Roseville Area Middle School is scheduled to begin this spring, at a cost of $11 million and $22.7 million, respectively.

The start of work at the remaining buildings — Falcon Heights, Emmet D. Williams and Harambee elementary schools — is yet to be determined. Falcon Heights and Harambee are both up for around $3 million of work; an early childhood center at Harambee will be built for $4.4 million.

Work at Emmet D. Williams is slated to cost $4.7 million.

For more information about how the Roseville Area Schools building bond is being spent, go to and click on the “Building Our Future” link.


– Mike Munzenrider can be reached at or 651-748-7813

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