March 9, 2018
As you know, over this last year, Schoolcraft has been involved in exploration, planning, and negotiation with the Deer Lake School, located north of Bemidji on HWY 89. In February, the board voted to sign a lease with Deer Lake Properties, pending a few hurdles. Yesterday, we received word that the last piece of the puzzle has fallen into place, and the lease is now executed. Schoolcraft is moving to Deer Lake!
This has been an incredible journey. A year ago, the school board adopted a vision that included “Our Own Place in the Natural World” as it’s first priority. This was before the Deer Lake School was known to us. Since then, we have undertaken a lot of study and listening to our community about what we need and want in a location.
Since the beginning, feedback about the Deer Lake School has been positive, from families, staff, and students. Here are a few of the highlights that we’ve been discussing about the property:
ADA compliance-- the new location is completely handicap accessible
Increased square footage-- the existing building at Deer Lake School is 27,000 square feet, and DLP has worked together with our building committee to propose a second building of around 7,000 square feet (a total of 34,000 square feet). Schoolcraft currently operates out of 19,000 square feet, so this is a huge increase.
The property has a gym, space for a library, and dedicated music and art classrooms
The property comes with 27 acres of pristine forest
The property is equidistant from the middle school (this means that if your students ride the bus from the middle school, their ride will NOT increase!)
The opportunity to have year round space which means no more packing up and moving. The major advantage to this is that we will gain back instructional time, and have the possibility of summer programming.
Something else we have talked about at length, and we can’t say it enough, is how much we have loved being at Concordia. Concordia Language Villages has been an incredible partner for the first part of our journey, and I cannot overstate that. We have loved our time here, and all the people that we have met along the way. I keep repeating this Dr. Seuss quote: “How wonderful it is to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard….”
We have also spent a lot of time exploring: “What is Schoolcraft?” One of the first questions we asked on staff and parent surveys regarding location was, “What is Schoolcraft’s flavor? How would you define Schoolcraft’s philosophy?” What we have heard loud and clear is that Schoolcraft is the people. That’s the beauty of this community. Everyone-- staff, students, and families-- have chosen to dedicate their time and talents to creating a community where our children work together to become self-directed, lifelong learners who have the skills and knowledge to confidently and compassionately navigate in the world. That was true 18 years ago, and is still true today. I cannot thank you enough for choosing to be a part of our community, and I hope that we will continue to be partners in education for many years to come.
So, what’s next?
In the weeks and months to come, there will be a lot of questions, ideas, and creativity! Our building committee, comprised of teachers, paraprofessionals, and board members, has already been working hard with Deer Lake Properties and architects to design a space that works well for our mission and vision. If you are interested in seeing these plans, we have copies at the front desk that we update periodically as new feedback is given. Our finance team and school board have been very involved in this process, and will continue to be involved as we begin making purchases and finalizing plans. I personally feel very good about the diligence and care that have gone into this decision, as both a leader and a parent at the school.
Many families have been sending in intent letters for next year. I urge you to please carefully consider your plans for next year and alert us to them as soon as possible.
As always-- PLEASE let me know if you have questions or concerns.