Rock Ridge Public Schools
rock ridge high

Newly merged Minnesota district breaks ground on new high school

Aug. 7, 2020
The Rock Ridge district, which was formed in July when the Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert school systems combined, is building a high school in Eveleth.

A newly merged school district in Minnesota has broken ground on a career academy high school.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that the Rock Ridge district, which was formed in July when the Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert school systems combined, has begun construction of Rock Ridge High School, which is scheduled to open in 2023 in Eveleth.

The district also will be constructing a new elementary that will open in 2022 in Eveleth and a new elementary in Virginia set to open in 2025.

“Two school districts, mortal enemies for hundreds of years, coming together, agreeing to build a high school and two new elementary schools; then choosing their mascot, school colors and a name; and then agreeing to consolidate. Who does this? Nobody. And I mean nobody,” Rock Ridge Superintendent Noel Schmidt says.

The seeds of consolidation were planted In 2017 when discussions began. In early 2019, the two districts secured $98 million over 20 years from the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation and the state of Minnesota added an additional $120 million over 20 years as well. 

in 2019, voters from the two districts approved a $180 million bond proposal to pay for construction of the three schools. Then, earlier this year, voters in each community approved an official merger of the district.

Before moving forward with the groundbreaking, the Rock Ridge district settled a dispute with a charter school over the planned site of the new high school. The district, contending that the Eveleth site of the East Range Academy of Technology and Science was the only suitable site for a Rock Ridge High, was going to use its eminent domain powers to claim the property.

[FROM JULY 2020: Minnesota district is using eminent domain to seize charter school's location]

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the district and the charter school have reached an agreement that will allow the charter school to remain where it is through June 2021 while Rock Ridge starts construction on other parts of the property.

The school district will also pay $260,000 to the charter school to cover moving expenses.

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