EDUCATION: TrekNorth agrees to purchase former Deer Lake Elementary
BEMIDJI -- The largely empty Deer Lake Elementary School building north of Bemidji could soon be a school again.
Leaders from TrekNorth Junior and Senior High School and 3Suns Research reached a purchase agreement Thursday, which means the Bemidji charter school will soon own the old elementary building and can use it for a planned K-5 expansion.
“We’re excited that we’ve reached an agreement, TrekNorth Executive Director Dan Mckeon said. “We are fully intending and excited to open an elementary school there in the fall of 2018.”
TrekNorth already serves students in grades 6-12 at a building on Paul Bunyan Drive Northwest. School staff hoped to construct an adjacent building for kindergarten and elementary grades, but had to table those plans after learning that their leaseholder was unwilling to sell the land this year. That prompted the charter school’s board to look for another spot for the hoped-for elementary building.
Bemidji Area Schools built the Deer Lake school decades ago, but closed it in the early 2000s and used it for storage and spare parts before selling it last fall to 3Suns, a small research and development firm that hoped to start an engineering school there. A decision by the U.S. Department of Education only weeks after that sale meant 3Suns staff had to put those plans on hold, but it opened an opportunity for Trek to buy the cavernous space and acres of surrounding land.
McKeon said the sale price, terms and conditions of the agreement with 3Suns are confidential until the early October closing date. Beltrami County property records indicate the research firm bought the building and land from the school district for $500,000.
TrekNorth has about 240 students in grades 6-12, and staff there expect the planned K-5 expansion will add roughly the same number of students. Grades 6-12 will remain at the existing junior and senior high building.