After years of research, months of informational meetings and a somewhat controversial decision for some, the Cambridge-Isanti School District has officially broken ground for construction of a new building.
The new building, located just off County Road 19 on the very southern point of the Cambridge city limits, will house the district’s three alternative learning programs, which includes Riverside Academy/ALC Program, “Moving Forward” and the district’s Level IV special education program, which the district is taking over operating beginning this school year after breaking away from the Rum River Co-op.
During a groundbreaking ceremony held on Thursday, Aug. 15, outgoing Superintendent Dr. Ray Queener praised the efforts of the district to add the building.
“What’s unique about this building is that it is three very special programs in and of themselves,” Dr. Queener said in what was his swan-song from the district. “They are all different in what they need, so we have a design that is able to accommodate all their different needs, but yet create the common space, which ultimately is more cost-efficient.”
While not directly addressing the most controversial aspect of the project– that the $12.2 million building will be paid via a board-imposed lease levy on taxpayers, Queener did talk about the financial benefits of the building.
“The ability to use our own land saved hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Queener said, referencing the fact that the district chose the location since it already owned the property.
“And when it’s paid for, it becomes an asset to the community,” Queener added. “Getting out of the leasing business and being able to own a building, that’s for our kids.”
“I would like to thank the district for their due diligence in building this,” said Isanti mayor Jeff Johnson. “I think this is going to be a huge benefit for both of our communities.”
“I think I speak for all of the citizens of Cambridge when I say we appreciate your commitment to building this facility,” Cambridge mayor Jim Godfrey said. “It’s not just a commitment to equitable facilities, it’s a commitment to quality education to all. Right now, we are in a farm field, but what’s going to grow here in the future is the imaginations and dreams of the kids.”
The initial stages of construction have already begun at the site, with completion slated for early spring 2020.