John Curtis, with Missouri River Contracting, clears debris from a classroom at Northridge Elementary School on Monday in Bismarck as part of a $7 million renovation project. 

Northridge Elementary School will undergo nearly $7 million in upgrades starting this summer.

Repairs at the 1727 N. Third St. school began this month, including the demolition of an old portable at the school, digging of the foundation for a classroom addition and abatement of asbestos.

The main renovation work, including new windows, paint, lighting and carpet, will start next month, according to Darin Scherr, business and operations manager for Bismarck Public Schools.

While the outside of the school won't look drastically different, the inside will see a complete transformation, according to Scherr.

"It should look more like a modern building," he said.

A committee comprised of local residents and school administrators met in 2017 to discuss space issues at the district's 16 elementary schools. Northridge was identified as a priority because the facility, which was built in 1954, is in need of several repairs.

School board members toured the building and observed how students eat lunch in a basement and how the building lacks a good ventilation system and an elevator.

Some teachers petitioned the board for upgrades to Northridge. One special education teacher told board members last year that children who use wheelchairs or have other mobility limitations can't attend Northridge because there isn't an elevator.

A new elevator will make the school compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Scherr said.

The school board hired Ubl Design Group to design the Northridge renovations. Money for the project comes from the district's building fund, an amount levied for building projects.

Scherr said it was "more cost-effective" to demolish a portable at the school that served as office space, because it was old and had asbestos in it.

There also will be an addition built onto the school that will add two classrooms plus additional space for the elevator and a room for school staff.

Renovations are expected to be completed by fall 2020, with four classrooms being upgraded at a time, according to Scherr.

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)