SAUK RAPIDS - A community task force has recommended that the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District build a fourth elementary school and replace Pleasantview Elementary with a new building.

A task force of nearly 100 community members have been gathering over the last two years as part of an ongoing facility study to address space concerns in the district.

Sauk Rapids-Rice is grappling with growing enrollment numbers (the district has grown by 800 students within the last six years). The State Demographer adds district enrollment is expected to increase by as much as 17.3 percent in the next five to ten years.

The task force has made the following facility recommendations to the school board to address these concerns:

  1. Build a fourth elementary school on property already owned by the district next to the high school. The school would accommodate 622 students.
  2. Expand preschool and early childhood at Hillside and Rice Elementary.
  3. At Rice Elementary, consider adding multi-purpose space. Possibly update playground equipment.
  4. Rather than spend $8-$9 million on maintenance at Pleasantview, replace it with a new school at the same location. Pleasantview students could attend the new elementary building temporarily while this new school is built. They would transfer back to Pleasantview when construction was finished.
  5. Add athletic facilities to the High School. These were scheduled to happen after the building was put up in 2003, but wasn’t completed due to a lack of money from the State.
  6. Complete a comprehensive security assessment and complete security updates at each site to meet new standards.
  7. Increase accessibility for students and families with disabilities at each site. Specifically: upgrades to bathrooms, elementary playgrounds and high school athletic fields.

Superintendent Dan Bittman previously said any potential referendum wouldn't be until May 2017 or November 2017. School board Chair Mark Hauck says the next steps for the district involve hosting community listening sessions through the fall.

"We're hoping to have some sessions in the fall and we'll send notices out to make sure we get as many people as possible into the conversation."