MLPS School Board addresses needed building projects at meeting

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List of possible building committee members received from SMAC

A partial list of school building projects that need attention were considered for completion over this summer during the Mountain Lake Public School Board meeting, held Monday, May 19.

Projects that were reviewed included:

* Updates to the gymnasium theater stage, projected to cost $36,473.

* Roofing repairs, estimated to cost $28,179.

* Pool locker room repairs, estimated to cost $7,680.

* Improvements to the four bathrooms in the 1940 high school building, estimated to cost $37,540.

* Updates to the early childhood building’s air conditioning system, estimated to cost $4,042.

“All of the work quotes were received from area and local businesses and contractors,” pointed out Mountain Lake Public School Superintendent Bill Strom. Since 2004, an ongoing list of projects needing attention has been reviewed annually by the school board, as well as staff. Superintendent Strom stressed that nearly all of the items on the list are basic items.

Continuing, Superintendent Strom explained that, “These items, and many others, have been delayed for the past five years as the school district has been attempting to come to grips with how to proceed with a comprehensive approach to our building priorities.”

He went on to state that the big issue facing the school board is how best to approach the needed repairs in a way that responsibly addresses student needs, safety concerns and the district’s fiscal capabilities. “We appear to be walking down a path to renovate the building,” added Superintendent Strom. “While there are many who believe that renovation is the correct approach that should be taken to meet the needs of students, there are others who are concerned that money spent on the renovated structure would be better spent on a partially-new, or completely new, structure.”

Superintendent Strom pinpointed that, “It is a complicated situation. There are so many needs, and the price of repair adds up. Last month, the Fire Marshal visited the school and explained to the school board members the building deficits and the problems that need attention in the district’s 1890 building.

“Eventually we are going to need help in the form of a v0ter-approved referendum to complete these items,” concluded Superintendent Strom. The school board will consider the list of projects at a school board meeting to be scheduled next week.

Dr. Rich of SMAC presents names for building committee

The school board is in the beginning process of forming a building committee. A list of 31 individuals was presented to the school board by Dr. Michael Rich, Executive Director for the Southwest Marketing Advisory Center (SMAC) at Southwest Minnesota State University-Marshall. The list of possible building committee members was created from feedback received from the community by SMAC over the past year-and-a-half. Graduate and undergraduate members of SMAC who are working on the MLPS project – all of whom are students at SMSU – include Jonathan Woehl and Maria Gilland, Account Executives, along with Managing Director Sarah Gass. During the course of the previous year, Jenna Radke was the Managing Director, but graduated this spring.

Explaining the relationship between the school district and SMAC, Superintendent Strom explained that, “Immediately after the December 2012 building vote failed, I contacted Dr. Rich to ask if he would work with the district and community to help us (school board and administration) dig us out of the hole we were in. I had worked with him for three years prior to this on another project, and believed he would be able to help the district recover from the failed bond and move ahead. Mike and I met several times during the winter and spring of 2013, charting a path that would led to a successful outcome for the school and community. He has been working with the school district and community since that time.”

Stated Dr. Rich, “We need people (to serve on the building committee) who exert influence in the community and will look at the big picture – free from political influence. How they voted before is not as important as their ability to remain objective. I feel we need to produce direct communication with community members on the names of those selected and the reasoning behind the selection.”

It was noted that Dr. Rich and SMAC had recently worked with the Cedar Mountain Public School Board and community on their building renovation project. A $7.7 million bond issued that passed with a 74% to 44% voter turnout.

In other business

* Hired Stacy Stade, a 19-year veteran teacher at Butterfield-Odin Public Elementary School as a new first-grade teacher.

* Approved posting for a second-grade teacher.

* Hired a number of people were hired to work for the school during the summer, including summer custodial staff members, summer recreation and summer sports camps workers and lifeguards and swimming instructors for the indoor swimming pool.

* Left the student fees at their current rates. The fees have not increased since 2002.

* Approved a revised building rental agreement. “The revised agreement continues a pattern of revisions over the past several years that makes the building more accessible to the public,” stated Superintendent Strom.

* Approved Taher, Inc. to be the food service provider for the district.

* Approved a two-year leave of absence for school counselor, Jody Lepp.

* Accepted the resignation of paraprofessional Susan Jyrkas.

* Approved the 2014-2015 meeting schedule, changing the meeting start time from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

* Approved the final revised 2013-2014 school calendar. Explained Superintendent Strom, “A total of 174 student days were built into the schedule, with two of those days used as ‘snow days.’ The target of 172 student days was met.”

* Approved open enrollments.

* Approved donations to the school district.

* Upcoming meeting dates: Monday, June 30 at 5:30 p.m. and Monday, July 21 at 5:30 p.m.

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