The Future of Andersen Elementary School
As one of the oldest schools in the district, Andersen Elementary is not only facing infrastructure challenges, it is also near capacity. As a result, the Stillwater Area Public School District is considering options to relocate the school, one of which includes Barker’s Alps Park. To help the community better understand the potential school relocation, please read the city's attempt to answer frequently asked questions about this important topic.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is wrong with the existing Andersen Elementary building and why is the district planning to relocate the school?
Andersen Elementary is near capacity and enrollment is expected to grow by about 100 students in the next 10 years. The building is more than 100 years old, has numerous deferred maintenance issues, and does not meet the needs of today’s learners. Per the Minnesota Department of Education, the school is guided for 14-19 acres (current site is 1.4 acres) and offers very little green space for outdoor learning or recreation. The building’s size creates staffing inefficiencies, offers no flexible learning spaces, and has limited space for special education, student services, music, art, media, and physical education.
Why does the district want to relocate the school instead of retaining the current location and expanding the building?
Andersen Elementary already has limited parking and its location in the center of the city creates traffic congestion and pedestrian challenges before and after school. Adding more students would only underscore these problems. An expansion that would meet the needs of the school district would require acquisition of several adjacent residential properties and surrounding streets/alleys, as well as impact the little green space that currently exists for outdoor learning and recreation.
Why did the district close other schools if growth is expected?
Schools in Withrow and Marine on St. Croix were experiencing staffing inefficiencies due to size constraints and the per student costs were exceeding other district elementary schools, causing inequities. The school in Oak Park Heights has been repurposed for use by 18 to 20-year-old young adults in the district’s Bridge Transition program. This building will also soon house the Area Learning Center, a program that provides educational options to students at risk of experiencing failure in a traditional high school.
If the growth is mainly in the south part of the district, why has the Bayport area been selected for a potential new school?
A new school in or near Bayport would help relieve pressure on Afton-Lakeland Elementary School, which is also near capacity and expected to see significant growth in the next 10 years.
If a bond referendum passes, does that mean the school would be relocated to Barker’s Alps Park?
While the decision to relocate Andersen Elementary has been made by the school district, the decision to use Barker’s Alps as the site for a new school will be made by the City Council after considering community input.
If the school is relocated to Barker’s Alps, how will that impact public use of the park?
The city and school district will work cooperatively to make existing amenities accessible to the public, either in their current locations at Barker’s Alps or elsewhere in the park, such as the trails, playground, “sledding hill,” and ballfields.
Is there additional risk with relocating the school closer to the correctional facility?
According to Associate Warden of Operations, “The school being across the street from our grounds would not create any further risk to the community in comparison to where it is now.”
Doesn’t a land use restriction exist from when the city purchased Barker’s Alps from the Department of Natural Resources?
Yes. When the district approached the city about the potential to relocate Andersen Elementary to Barker’s Alps, the city inquired with the state about interpretation of a deed clause that guided land use of the park for “recreational and cultural purposes.” In response to the city’s inquiry, state legislators, with approval from the DNR, drafted an amendment to the deed to allow flexibility to also use the park for “educational purposes.” If the community supports relocation of the school to the park, the city would request the state vote on the amendment in the next legislative session.
How do I provide input on this topic to the city?
In late August or early September 2023, Bayport registered voters will receive a short survey from the city by mail to help gauge overall opinions on this important topic. Your input can also be shared with city staff and the City Council via email at email@example.com
Sites Reviewed for Andersen Elementary Relocation
#1 – Xcel Energy King Plant
This site is located in Oak Park Heights and is currently used as a coal power plant, scheduled for decommissioning in 2028 with remediation and consideration of potential reuse options to follow. The decommissioning timeline does not align with the school district’s proposed facility improvement plan.
#2 – Anderson Farm
This site is located in Baytown and was recently under contract with a private investor for residential development. The city has been notified that the land sale is likely to fall through, but the property owner is pursuing other residential development opportunities. The site would require significant grading, loss of trees, and accessibility improvements to make a suitable school location.
#3 – People’s Church Park
This site is located in Baytown, adjacent to Barker’s Alps Park, and consists of 10 acres. The church has not expressed interest in selling the site at this time, but is open to shared facilities for parking and outdoor education.
#4 – Correctional Facility
This site is located directly east of the Fire Department. The Department of Corrections has no interest in selling the property. In addition, the site is intersected by Perro Creek and contains wetland areas that do not make this site conducive to a suitable school location.
#5 – St. Croix Conservation Site
This site is located on the St. Croix River and consists of 11 acres. The site was acquired by the city in 2019 with funding provided by the DNR, Clean Water, Land and Legacy Program, and Andersen Corporation and is protected by a conservation easement. A school is not a permitted use on this property.
#6 and #7 – Barker’s Alps Park
The northern site (#6) consists of 20 acres, with the school district proposing to use 11 acres with shared parking at the adjacent People’s Church Park. The concept plan includes retaining the existing "sledding hill" and baseball/soccer field and was identified as the only viable site that meets the needs of the school district. The southern site (#7) consists of the remaining 27 acres of the park, with 9 acres of open space/playground area and 18 acres of wooded bluffland. Transportation access is limited through the Inspiration neighborhood, which does not make this site conducive to a suitable school location, but does provide opportunity for additional park facilities, such as relocation of the softball field from the northern park area.
#8 and #9 – Inspiration
The 145 acres of prairie open space surrounding the neighborhood (#8) is owned by the city, but protected by a permanent conservation easement with the Minnesota Land Trust and restricted from development. The 6-acre parcel south of Inspiration (#9) was deeded to the city for public infrastructure/use, but development is restricted to a 2-acre building envelope, which does not meet the needs of the school district.
Draft Concept Plan for Relocating Andersen Elementary to Barker's Alps Park
As mentioned above, the Stillwater Area Public School District approached the city regarding potential relocation of Andersen Elementary to Barker’s Alps Park in an attempt to retain the school within Bayport and in close proximity to many homes and other partner organizations, such as the Bayport Library, Police, and Fire Departments, Croixdale, and Community Thread.
Using park area along 5th Ave. N., the concept plan retains the “sledding hill,” trails, playground, and baseball/soccer field. In partnership, People’s Church is open to using their property for parking and/or outdoor education.
It should be noted that this concept is only a draft. The final plan will consider additional community input.