We sincerely thank the St. Louis Park voters for their support of the 2022 bond referendum to restore, repair and update facilities, which passed with 70.46% percent of the vote last August.
The $135 million bond referendum focuses on facilities projects that will enhance the daily lived experience of students, stabilize costs and conserve energy, maintain core operations, and improve safety and security. The bond referendum also includes projects that received voter approval in 2017, and were unable to be completed due to pandemic related construction cost increases, supply chain shortages, and regulatory requirements that added millions of dollars to project costs. These projects were important in 2017 and they remain vital to our student experience.
Our facilities team will be working with Knutson Construction, our architecture partners and other long-term vendor partners on facilities projects that will enhance the learning experience in our schools.
We invite families to visit the new facilities improvements webpage to stay updated on the construction projects:
- Facilities Projects by School (summary and timeline coming soon)
- Submit FAQs
- Watch previous construction presentations
- Beginning in February, we will provide a monthly construction update from Knutson Construction through school newsletters.
Two high interest projects currently on the docket include the solar projects and the High School kitchen renovation, which will help improve the dining experience for students.
Over the past five years, St. Louis Park Public Schools has worked on the installation of solar panels across district buildings. Once complete, 30% of the district’s energy will be generated from solar panels, resulting in millions in cost savings over time. For example, if the district spends $6 million on electricity today, it would be $2 million less once solar panels are installed. It is one of the best investments to reduce energy and save money.
The solar projects put St. Louis Park Public Schools well on its way to supporting two of the City of St. Louis Park’s renewable energy goals:
- Achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2030
- Reduce energy consumption in large commercial buildings 30% by 2030
Did you know that St. Louis Park High School students were behind the City’s carbon neutrality efforts? In 2016, students involved in the SLP High School Roots and Shoots Club and iMatter presented a Youth Climate Report Card and asked the St. Louis Park City Council to adopt a Climate Inheritance Resolution demonstrating the city's commitment to protect the future and the lives of generations to come. That Climate Inheritance Resolution passed and led to the City’s Climate Action Plan.
By summer of 2024, nearly all St. Louis Park Public School buildings will have solar panels. While some panels have already been installed, most of the installation will begin this summer. Two district buildings, Aquila Elementary School and Lenox, do not have proper roof structure to apply solar panels. The life of a solar plan spans about 25 years.
High School Dining Redesign
St. Louis Park Public Schools is redesigning the dining experience at the High School. We want families to ask their students, “So, how was lunch at school today?” and for students to respond excitedly about healthy meal options, colorful plates, and meaningful conversation with their friends.
Our redesign process will include updates to the physical space in the cafeteria, a renovated kitchen with updated equipment, and changes that will improve the overall dining experience, like healthier meal options, expanded seating, community-building and time with peers, and more.
This fall, we surveyed students and caregivers about the district’s School Nutrition program. The following are the highlights from the survey results:
- The school nutrition staff in the kitchens and cafeterias get very positive ratings from both students and parents.
- Most students very much see their lunch period as a time to connect with their friends.
- The results from the question about “find meals I like to eat” is about 60 positive and 40 negative, which indicated opportunities to change how meal options are described and presented.
- Close to 50 percent of parents disagree or strongly disagree about the availability of healthy options for students in the cafeterias. This also presents an opportunity to share messages about healthy meal options and what is both required and offered as part of meal service.
Additionally, over the next several weeks, we hope to work with student interns to hold focus groups with their peers to understand what changes they’d like to see in the high school dining experience. Their findings will be shared with District Nutrition staff and the Construction Steering Committee with the goal of centering student experience in the redesign process.
- What can students expect in the new dining experience once it’s complete in 2024? The renovated kitchen will enhance our capacity to have healthy and delicious cooking on-site. We’ll have the ability to prepare meats and vegetables in a variety of ways using braising pans to cook, grill, and fry foods, and the Rational oven to roast and steam foods. A fresh salad bar or veggie bar will be offered at every meal.
- Continued seasonally fresh produce like potatoes, zucchini, squash and carrots from our Farm to School partners. Did you know we get our Delica squash from the Yang family farm in New Prague, Minnesota?
- Taste testing new meal options and opportunities for students to share their feedback on their favorite meals. We definitely want to know what’s most popular with students. Some of our cooks come up with their own menu items, and we also share recipe ideas with other school districts.
- Dedicated cooks who receive training from professional chefs at Good Acre, one of SLP’s Farm to School partners, and other partner chefs. There will also be professional training with the kitchen equipment manufacturers on how to optimize our kitchen and make delicious foods.
- Expanded seating capacity, new furniture, and visually a better dining experience
- Fewer lunch sections to make the whole day run more smoothly.
Our Nutrition Services team will be testing out new menu items this school year, so we encourage families to check out our recipes and meals items through our online meal menus.
We want to make high school families aware that the kitchen redesign is a major construction project that will disrupt the regular lunch schedule at the high school for about 18 months, beginning in September, 2023. During this time, students will eat meals in the activity center and we will only be able to offer cold bento box options for breakfast and lunch.
Examples of cold bento box meals include sandwiches, wraps, and salads that come with fresh whole fruit and veggies. The bento box meals will be satisfying portions that will be prepared and assembled at the kitchen at the Central building, the satellite kitchen for the High School during the renovation.
Other construction projects at the high school include classroom renovations, greater parking capacity, and improvements to music, physical education, and community-use spaces.
Visit our Construction web page for regular updates on our facilities projects.