This year school is looking a little different for everyone across the state, even the construction workers on the projects.
In the Mounds View area alone, five projects finished, along with many more throughout the metro area. Typically, these busy times, which Kraus-Anderson commonly refers to as “summer slams.”
However, due to the pandemic, construction crews were afforded a few more weeks, allowing them to finish ahead of schedule. To get a little better insight into how the epidemic has affected K-12 Education, we interviewed Gary Benson.
Gary is Kraus-Anderson’s Director of Project Planning & Development and is instrumental in working with school districts across the state.
What are your thoughts on getting referendums passed for future schools?
Just in recent weeks, we have had 6 or 7 referendums pass. What people are realizing is that they need these schools. They are the center of the community. We don’t have any fear that construction in the K-12 Education market will slow. Communities are excited to get back to schools, not just to learn, but to gather and hold events.
What construction changes do you see happening as the pandemic goes on?
The new schools are even more aware of developing flexible learning spaces. A lot of classes might soon hold 15 students rather than 20-25. There is also a lot of literature and study on air quality and filtration. Schools that may have had issues before with air now have to think if they can retrofit to fit new air systems. The pandemic brings up spatial concern and environmental, and unfortunately, at this time, there is still a lot of inconclusive evidence.
The bidding climate is also coming in consistently 10-15% under the project budget because healthcare and commercial have slowed down.
Lately, we have heard a lot more about Career Academies. Can you tell us a little about your thoughts on that and how that might affect construction?
Roseville and Virginia, Minnesota, will be a career academy high school focusing on the concept of their career pathway. We see this more outstate due to the small-town industry and factory plants. Teaming with local businesses and industries help pay for expensive equipment that can allow students to learn more.
We have learned from this pandemic that schools are the center of the community, a gathering place. We have begun to realize that what we no longer have becomes even dearer to us.
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