RPS presents overview of Bishop Elementary project

The reconstruction of Harriet Bishop Elementary is one of the projects voters approved as part of the referendum in November. It's expected to be completed by the fall of 2022.

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Rochester Public Schools

Giving the city the chance to reimagine one of its existing schools, Rochester Public Schools held a presentation Wednesday night about the reconstruction of Harriet Bishop Elementary.

The reconstruction of Bishop Elementary is one of the projects being funded by the $180.9 million bond referendum that voters approved in November. Other projects funded through the referendum include the reconstruction of Longfellow Elementary, as well as the construction of a new elementary school and a new middle school.

The middle school project also had a similar feedback session at the beginning of June.

Bishop Elementary is located just west of West Circle Drive, south of Highway 14 and north of Country Club Road Southwest.

One of the reasons for the reconstruction of the school is capacity. The current capacity of the school is between 400 and 500 students. That will increase to 720 with the new building.


“We’re increasing capacity to accommodate the growth in the area and the city,” said Jason Woodhouse, of the firm CRW Architecture and Design Group, who was giving the presentation.

Construction on the school is expected to start in June 2021, and is expected to be complete by fall 2022. Although the new building will be in the same location, it will not sit on the exact same footprint. Because of that, Woodhouse said the School District likely will continue to use the existing building while construction is underway on the new facility.

Those watching the presentation were able to submit questions on the topic. Since the new building will be constructed on the same site, many of the questions focused on how the project would change the existing usage of the area and its effect on surrounding homes.

For example, there was a question about whether students would be able to use the hill on the property for sledding in the winter. There was a question about whether the school would connect to the bike path along West Circle Drive. There was a question about whether the existing playgrounds would have to move as a result of the construction.

A number of questions focused on the nearby homes on 36th Avenue. One viewer asked if the School District intended to purchase any of them. Another viewer asked what the distance would be from the school to the homes.

“We have kept in mind some of the homes that are along 36th Avenue. We can make it work without those; ideally, it’d be nice to have a second entrance to separate bus and parent drop-offs, but we’ll evaluate that as we go along further into the design process,” Woodhouse said. “For now, everything is working within the existing site itself.”

Part of the transition process from the old building to the new is still unknown. For example, Woodhouse said it’s undecided where parents and staff will be able to park while the old building is still standing and the new building is being constructed.

One option Woodhouse suggested as a possibility would be to move the Bishop Elementary students into the new Northwest elementary school until the construction of the new Bishop Elementary building is complete.


“We’re kind of looking at all aspects to see how it’s going to work best from a construction standpoint and a safety standpoint,” he said.

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or
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