River Grove elementary school, in partnership with Manitou Fund, will be temporarily housed in the Zephyr Theatre building in downtown Stillwater, MN, beginning in fall 2023.
River Grove elementary school announced they will be relocating to the Zephyr Theatre property located at 601 Main Street North in Stillwater for the start of 2023-24 school year. The move is part of an ongoing collaborative partnership with Manitou Fund, who recently entered into a purchase agreement to buy the Zephyr property. The move will provide an interim home for the school as it continues to develop long-term plans to create a forest-based campus and learning center. “We’re extremely excited about this opportunity and are incredibly thankful to Manitou Fund for providing us a unique space in such an amazing location,” says Drew Goodson, Executive Director, River Grove school. “We look forward to continuing the implementation of our innovative, place-based curriculum along the St. Croix River.”
“Manitou Fund is pleased to be able to offer River Grove an opportunity to continue to deliver thoughtful environmental-based education programming,” says Oliver Din, president and chief executive officer. “This synergetic space will enable an environment of creative and collaborative community connections, including the Zephyr Theatre’s already proven school-based arts education programming.”
“The Zephyr Theatre, on the north end of downtown Stillwater, is in an ideal location to help the school further its place- and project-based focus,” added Goodson. Presenters at the Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, April 13, began to sketch out the many ways the school will continue to grow as a leader in Minnesota’s charter school arena, utilizing access to many local natural spaces immediately adjacent in Stillwater and in the greater St, Croix River Valley area, historical sites, and community partnerships. “With the generous, visionary support that Manitou Fund has provided and continues to offer, we are very confident that this is the right direction for our school community while we continue to explore a permanent location in the forest,” Goodson stated.
Why a Temporary Location?
The proposed terms of the Wilder lease extension threatened the school’s financial viability and programming continuity if we remained at our current location. These costs and terms, usually the property owner’s responsibility, would directly affect teachers and students. Minnesota Catholic Youth Partnership (MYCP) also asked for terms that would impact the school.
- The school assumes all responsibility for maintenance, repair, and upkeep of the property.
- Wilder will no longer be providing a dedicated maintenance person (winter plowing, service road maintenance, minor building upkeep, etc.).
- Repair liability includes capital items and insurance deductible.
- The school calendar must end by May 17, 2024.
- Possible additional week for adults to move items.
- MCYP’s renovations of the property to begin December 2023; school responsible for cost and undertaking of accommodating displaced classrooms.
- $100,000 security deposit to abide by all terms and conditions of the lease agreement.
- MCYP requiring a “letter of support” from the school supporting their purchase and camp plans.
Our interim location will provide amazing new opportunities and stability as we pursue our permanent location in the forest.
Please refer to the Executive Director’s presentation to the Board of Directors meeting, Thursday, April 13, 2023, for additional background information.
Planning is underway, kicked off by the unanimous approval at last night’s meeting of River Grove’s Board of Directors of the Letter of Intent from Manitou Fund. Additional details from the meeting, including notes from the presentations, will be sent to parents and the community very soon.
Thank you for your support throughout this process.
The Team at River Grove