The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

BSM’s new expansion plan

BSM students can expect bigger and better things in the near future; however, the only students who will reap the benefits may be those in seventh grade right now. Benilde-St. Margaret’s School is currently beginning to draw up tentative plans for school reconstruction and expansion as well as considering how the project will be done.

Possible renovation plan established

Right now the school anticipates a twenty-year plan which will be broken down into multiple phases, said Dr. Tift, BSM President. The plan will include changes to athletic facilities, additional parking, office space, and the number of classrooms.

As of yet, the school is still focusing on raising the money to begin the program: “We have to raise money before we can do anything,” said Dr. Tift. He anticipates at least a couple of years to raise the necessary amount of money to begin any construction. The school hopes to be able to raise the money before construction rather than taking out a loan. “The plan is to not go into debt––we’re still paying off the last one,” said Dr. Tift, referring to the loan taken out for BSM’s last construction project.

Community assesses needs for BSM

The school began the project by talking to members of the community as well faculty and staff, and asking what they believed were the needs of the school. Next, the board of directors hired the of architecture company ATS&R earlier this year to take a look at the school and formulate a 20-year plan. Keeping in mind the proposals of the community, faculty, and staff, Beeninga returned a proposal of approximately $80-$100 million worth of suggestions to the administration.

In order to prioritize the suggestions, the administration polled students and parents and asked where they believed the project’s priorities ought to lie. “We wanted to assess our needs as a school,” said Dr. Tift. From there, the administration outlined phase one of the fund raising campaign. The first phase is broken into four major parts: the annual fund, family tuition aid, outdoor campus renovation, and construction on the new north building.

Under phase one, the school plans to raise $6 million for the Tuition Assistance program, as well as $3.75 million which will be put towards the renovation of the outdoor campus, which will include the construction of a synthetic turf field, the building of additional parking, and the optimization of the land (such as new or renovated sports fields).

$9.5 million will be put towards family tuition aid. Finally, the third step of phase one will be a $11.75 million renovation of the building itself, which will encompass a gain of eight new rooms, two new labs, new Little Knight space, and centralized administration offices. However, construction will not begin on any area until all or almost all of the money for that area of construction is complete. Because almost all of the money from the project is coming from donations, there is not a set order for which aspects of the project will be completed first.

Where the money is donated is based on “donor interest,” meaning they can choose where they want their money to go. “When this bucket is full of money, then we start that [project],” said Vice President of Advancement Casey Breen.

With board approval, first steps will begin

Before any major actions can be taken, the administration will need board approval––this includes major actions in construction as well as fund-raising. A board meeting took place May 13 in which approval of fund-raising for the project was discussed.

Shortly there after, the school will begin testing the foundations of the outdoor campus. “We are going to start core samples––soil samples to help engineers plan our fields,” said Dr. Tift. Concerning the construction part of the project, “there are no problems yet,” said Mr. Breen, but “with any project there is a lot of red tape to go through.” Mr. Breen does not, however, anticipate any issues that will ultimately halt the construction progress once it starts.

Thus far this year, the school has been able to raise $4 million to put towards these projects; however, the school can’t put the project on a timeline yet: “We don’t have any specific dates; it’s driven by how quickly we raise the money,” said Dr. Tift. The administration expects to have raised the money for the first phase of the project by 2013.

Planning for the project will continue over the summer: “Hopes are that there will be a lot of planning over the summer,” said Mr. Breen.

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The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN
BSM’s new expansion plan