Work is to begin soon on a long-awaited renovation of St. Paul’s American Indian Magnet School.

The school board on Tuesday gave final approval to the $51.6 million project, which also will include a new addition.

The action involved awarding a series of contracts — 23 altogether — reflecting closer board scrutiny of a districtwide facilities improvement plan that had been marred earlier by soaring costs.

Board members signaled in February they would back the makeover of the East Side school. For decades, the building — the original home of Harding High School — has been a vital part of the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood.

The board was on a tight timeline, however, to approve bids so that construction could begin this year.

The $51.6 million represented a slight savings on the $53.3 million that had been projected for the project in February. The board on Tuesday also accepted bids totaling $16.1 million for work planned on the District Service Facility, which now houses the school system’s central kitchen plus warehouse and other spaces.

No one expressed reservations about moving ahead with the two projects in light of the pandemic. But Board Member Steve Marchese said the district should be cautious in determining what’s next in its long-range facilities plan.

“We have a lot to knit together in the future that’s coming up,” he said.

Superintendent Joe Gothard agreed, saying the pandemic and the district’s related move to distance learning mean such discussions are on hold for now.