A lot of homework: Years in the planning, Brookview Elementary opens doors

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Mark Drommerhausen spent nearly two years as part of a team helping to plan the design, construction and staffing for the new Brookview Elementary School, where he serves as principal.

Where should the building orient, to the north or south? Where will the playground be located? Should the bus drop-off area be separate from the place where parents pick up their kids? Those were among the many questions the team faced.

Now the real work begins.

Brookview held its first day of classes Aug. 28, when more than 400 students swarmed through the halls to their lockers and then to their assigned classrooms.

"There's a lot of positive energy in the building right now among the staff and families," Drommerhausen said. "We're ready for a great school year."

The $25 million, 74,000-square-foot building near the intersection of Brookview Road and Settlers Ridge Parkway can serve up to 450 students. More than half of those are from Valley Crossing, which was a boundary school for Stillwater Area Public Schools. They needed a place for 270 students after they sold their portion of that building last year to South Washington County Schools.

Another factor in the construction of Brookview was overcrowding at Lake Elmo Elementary, which drew students from Woodbury. The new school will also draw from Afton-Lakeland Elementary.

Drommerhausen helmed a transition team of 12 classroom teachers, a special ed teacher, a pre-K teacher, a custodian, a food service manager and six paraprofessionals. They held monthly meetings. The calendar also included meet-and-greet events for parents and their children who would be attending Brookview. They held an event at Wooddale Fun Zone and hosted a kindergarten orientation last year at Eagle Brook Church.

They also had a large scale design team that focused on procedures and programming for the 2017-18 school year.

"We wanted to get input from around the district," Drommerhausen said.

That team then broke into smaller more detail-oriented groups. Inspirational words that appear in the hallway on the locker bays — "compassion," kindness" — were the result of input from staff.

"As a staff we came up with the characteristics that we want to display," Drommerhausen said.

Brookview features dedicated art and music classrooms, special ed rooms, band and orchestra with instrument storage, student lockers, a playground, lacrosse and soccer fields, basketball courts, and a library at the school, as well as 2-to-1 technology ratios via push-in carts, like other Stillwater Area Public Schools.

The final preview was an Aug. 23 open house at Brookview. Students and parents toured the building. Joel and Shannon Jordan of Woodbury brought sons Hudson, 7 who will be in the first grade, and Holton 5, who will attend preschool.

Jessel Gaskell brought her twins Sean and Brady Murphy, 8, and son Liam, 5. The twins careened around the school gym, which still carried the faint tang of sawdust.

In the music room, vocal music teacher Kate Webster introduced herself to Alyson Rothmeier, 5. Asked if music was her favorite subject, Alyson replied, "Actually, it's science."