St. Cloud Area School District 742 convened a Community Committee to develop a Long-Range Facilities Plan to create a vision for education in the community. The plan called for the construction of a new E-8 school in St. Joseph, Minnesota to address the rapid growth seen in that area of the district.
David Leapaldt facilitated the community planning process and served as the lead architect to design a modern school on a 71-acre site in the small town community.
After the school opened in 2006, it became a case study in the nation for combining facility features and educational opportunities. The school was the first in Minnesota to earn the national Gold LEED Certification for implementing environmentally-friendly practices in the design and construction.
Kennedy Community School initially opened as a 135,000-square-foot E-8 school for 755 students. Expecting enrollment to continue to increase rapidly, the team incorporated a series of design and construction provisions to make expanding easier in the future.
Although the school has a sizable footprint, it achieved the community’s desire to make it feel like a family-friendly, small town school. Separating the grade levels into three learning communities – E-2, Grades 3-5, and Grades 6-8 help accomplish this close-knit feel.
The design team arranged each of these communities around a central core, and the design does not require these communities to mix. The design also make safety a priority with solution such as separating bus and car traffic and using only one entry for both daytime and nighttime activities.
When enrollment demanded more classroom space, the district called on Leapaldt seven years later to put the original planning for expansion to use.
Together with the IIW Minnesota team, Leapaldt helped the district add a total of 12 new classrooms while improving the cafeteria serving areas, site circulation and traffic flow to also accommodate the growing school.
The expansion included the addition of two classrooms to the kindergarten and early childhood wing, four classrooms and additional bathrooms to the first and second grade wing, and six classrooms and additional bathrooms for grades 3-8.
Kennedy Community School now spans 155,000 square feet and can serve up to 985 students.
*Some work performed by David Leapaldt while Principal at Grooters, Leapaldt Tideman Architects PC.