For 64 years, Northeast Middle School has stood along St. Anthony Parkway, a nearly anonymous block of mid-century brick. For newcomers, it’s difficult to tell which entrance is the main entrance – or if the school even has one.
That will change by this fall. A project is underway at the school that will not only provide students and visitors with new, more visible entrances, but enhanced security and improved air quality as well.
The project was put out for bids in December of last year, and contracts were awarded in January.
Workers began tearing out the original 1-ft. x 1-ft. asbestos ceiling tiles in the top-floor classrooms in the A (north) Building on Feb. 24. They are working their way down to the basement and will cross over to the B (south) building to replace tiles there.
Pipes are being re-routed and ventilation systems will be upgraded, not just as a response to COVID-19, but to protect a new body of students.
Come fall, Northeast will begin teaching medically fragile students who may need medical help during the day. The nurse’s office will be a little more high tech than its predecessor, including a Hoyer lift to help get a student out of a wheelchair. It will be a little larger, too, with an area where a student with a fever can be isolated until a parent or guardian comes to pick them up. The school will have a fulltime RN on staff who will be helped by a licensed practical nurse.
The most visible renovation, however, is the construction of a new entrance on the north side of the A Building that faces St. Anthony Blvd. With a canopy over the top and its name writ large across it, the school will look more like a destination. Despite the shift in entrance location, the school’s official address will remain 2955 Hayes Street NE. The school’s south entrance will also have a canopy and the name will be visible from 29th Avenue NE.
A new electronic billboard sign will also face the boulevard.
School security was not on the minds of school architects back in the 1950s. Inside the new entrance will be a security desk where visitors will check in, with the school’s offices behind it. Access to the stairwell on the east side of the building will also be blocked by the security desk.
Nearby residents may have already noticed a number of trucks in the school’s parking lots.
By the time students begin to return to in-classroom learning April 12, the north parking lot will be for construction workers’ use only. The south parking lot will be used for staff. Overflow parking will spill to side streets near the school. The majority of street parkers should be gone by the end of the school day.
In addition, the sidewalk on the north end of the A building will be fenced off during construction, making it unavailable to walkers.
When the project wraps up in mid-August, the school’s new front door will be surrounded by new landscaping and the trash bins onsite will be enclosed.
Asked how much the project cost, Principal Vernon Rowe laughed and said, “That’s above my pay grade!”
He later came back with a figure: $3,057,488.
Below: Northeast Middle School will soon have a more distinctive presence along St. Anthony Blvd. in a project that will enhance security and air quality as well. (Rendering courtesy Minneapolis Public Schools)