It will still be nearly three years before work is completed on renovations and an addition at Superior High School, but design plans are beginning to come together for the project.

The Superior School Board viewed preliminary plans earlier this month, but they will not be made public until finalized.

Christina Kintop, Board vice president, was impressed with the design after watching a virtual tour of the new high school.

"What I like about this is it kind of has a college feel," she said.

The design includes a new, larger media center as a focal point and a three-story academic addition with spaces for small groups to meet and seating areas directly outside of classrooms. A second gymnasium will be added, and an open commons area will stretch from the gym to the performing arts center.

The existing, circular academic building will be demolished as part of the renovation plan.

Work is not expected to begin until the end of the 2016-17 school year, but Mary Metzinger, with the Lake Superior Garden Club, asked the Board to keep the Spartan Gardens in mind before making any moves.

The gardens at SHS have been maintained by the club for 15 years, she said. Numerous memorial trees have been planted, and thousands of dollars have been invested.

With plans now underway to renovate the site, Metzinger said the club is concerned about the future of the gardens.

"We understand and we won't let it go away," said Len Albrecht, Board president.

School district administrator Janna Stevens said the club will be kept informed of plans to move the existing gardens or incorporate them into the new high school design.

In other news, the Superior school district is continuing to monitor the status of its secondary wastewater pond at Four Corners Elementary School.

The pond was found empty Sept. 20, and the school district immediately notified the Department of Natural Resources.

"It was a pretty significant wake-up," said Gary Niemi, director of buildings and grounds. "When I saw no water, my heart just sunk."

The DNR had inspected the site as part of the regular permitting process on Aug. 12, at which point the wastewater pond was full.

Niemi suspects wildlife living near the pond - and burrowing into the dikes - could be the root of the problem.

"I'm guessing a muskrat got lucky and found a sand seam somewhere," Niemi said.

School district maintenance staff sealed the muskrat holes they could find and then refilled the pond with water. As of Nov. 1, Niemi reported the pond was holding at the correct water level.

In the spring, the school district may undertake more extensive work to ensure the pond does not leak again.

The School Board is also considering its options after declining to release a teacher from her contract at the committee of the whole meeting earlier this month.

The teacher, though still under contract in Superior, had already left the school district for a job in Duluth when she asked the School Board to release her from her contract.

According to Stevens, the position cannot be easily filled, and the school district could incur additional expenses if forced to hire long-term substitutes.

Board members split 3-3 on a motion to forward the request to their regular Board meeting, resulting in the failure of the motion.

Kyle Torvinen, attorney for the Superior school district, said he would have advised the Board to act as it did. By refusing to release the teacher from her contract, the school district retains its right to sue for breach of contract if it incurs additional expenses.