Kenny lunchroom, kitchen addition on hold

Kenny School
A planned lunchroom and kitchen addition at Kenny Community School is on hold after bids for the project came in nearly $2 million over the Minneapolis school district’s budget. Submitted rendering

A new lunchroom and kitchen at Kenny Community School is off the menu, at least for now.

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) has scrapped plans to build the new facility this summer after the lowest bid for the project was nearly $2 million over the district’s
$3.4 million budget.

Instead, the district plans to replace aluminum supports and install new front doors, LED lighting and a new gymnasium ceiling.

In an email, the district’s chief operations officer, Karen DeVet, wrote that MPS could include additional funding for the project in future capital budgets.

She said it makes sense for the district to hold off on doing so until after a School Board vote on a proposal to shuffle elementary and middle school programming, grade configurations and busing zones. The vote is expected in April.

Early models of that proposal give Kenny a considerably smaller busing zone than it has now. Specifically, only students who live in the Kenny neighborhood and a pocket of the Windom neighborhood wedged between the Bachman’s parking lot and Highway 62 would be bused to the school. Currently, students who live in the Armatage, Kenny and Windom neighborhoods are eligible for busing to the school. 

Based on enrollment data from the current school year, if only students living in the modeled busing zone attend Kenny, the school would have an enrollment of 289, instead of about 470.

A district spokesman declined to comment on whether it would make sense to proceed with the lunchroom and kitchen project if Kenny’s enrollment decreases that substantially.

DeVet said the lowest bid for the project, which also was supposed to include upgrading mechanical, plumbing, architectural and lighting systems, was $5.3 million. The contractors said their bids were over the district’s budget because of a tight labor market and an aggressive construction schedule.

MPS plans to put the revised Kenny project out to bid on March 17, DeVet wrote, and to do any construction this summer, provided the bid is acceptable. The lighting upgrade work would extend into the fall.

Kenny is a K-5 school built in 1954. Over 85% of its students come from the Armatage, Kenny and Windom neighborhoods.

The school is one of the many that could see its busing zone substantially change under the district’s elementary and middle school proposal.

That proposal is expected to be the centerpiece of an effort to increase integration, create more equitable access to magnet schools and improve the district’s financial position.

MPS has called the broader effort — which will also include changes to the school-choice process, special education, high school career and technical education, academics and high school pathways — the Comprehensive District Design.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated which year Kenny was built. The building opened in 1954.