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Fillmore Central School Board discusses project funding

Fri, May 29th, 2009
Posted in Education

The Fillmore Central School Board decided to go ahead with a large and much-needed project at the Middle School at their May 26 meeting. Aaron Hess from A&F Consulting spoke to the board about the HVAC project and the air quality study that was recently done.

Hess explained that inspections were done and efficiency checked in every room at the middle school. They also checked the levels of carbon dioxide in each room.

According to Hess there were some air quality deficiencies, including a lack of fresh air, not enough exhaust, pollutants, and carbon dioxide levels that were too high.

There were also some equipment concerns, as the building was built in 1959 and still has all the original equipment. The steam lines are eroding, the unit ventilators are below today's standards, and the controls are failing.

Hess also pointed out the two boilers need increasing repairs every year, which costs the district a lot of money.

The benefits of improving the air quality and going ahead with the new HVAC system include reduced absenteeism for staff and students, better productivity, and a decrease in health risks, including asthma. Hess assured the board that the pollutants in the air were not at a dangerous level.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.95 million. Jim Schmidt from Springstead explained the different ways the district has of financing such a large project. There is the Alternative Facilities Bonding Program, which is a program the district can use one time only. Schmidt explained the program will spread the levying money over a period of time, which will offset existing levies and have a low impact on taxes.

The Facilities Committee looked at the project and the costs. Board member John Torgrimson believed the project was a good idea, as it could extend the life of the building. He also felt the bonds were the most efficient way for the school to pay for the project.

Sue Ostrom agreed, noting that Fillmore Central had not used this program before and should take advantage of it. Sue Sikkink asked if they had also looked at the high school building, and Hess said they have done some work at the high school already.

Schmidt explained the district must accept or reject the Review and Comment from the Department of Education for the use of the Alternative Facilities Bonds. He recommended they start bidding in November or December so they can get on schedule to have the project done in the summer of 2010. He said it takes 45-60 days to get the Review and Comment back from the state.

Schmidt wanted the board to be aware that there are many other districts in Minnesota that need similar work but have not come so far as to use the program "You have fine facilities," he said. "Why not maintain them? It's cheaper than building a new building."

Schmidt went over a few other bonding options that could cover part of the costs, including Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCB) and Build America Bonds (BAB). Both are part of the new stimulus package with low or no interest. Schmidt felt the BABs usually come out as a better deal for districts. The schools can get a 35 percent rebate on interest paid.

The Alternative Financing Bonds are a good scenario for the school, according to Schmidt. They have a low impact on taxpayers. He went over the costs and the payment schedule, and he recommended a 15 year schedule. He anticipated a 3.99 percent interest rate.

Roof Replacement

There was also discussion on the roof at the Middle School, and the costs to replace it. Hess had estimated the cost of replacing the entire roof at $327,000. Maintenance Supervisor Blaine Moe told the board about some issues with the roof over the middle school gym. He said there are two places where the insulation is contaminated and leaking. He had two bids from roofers that the district has used before. Horizon Roof and Schwickerts both gave bids on replacing the gym roof that were similar.

According to Moe, a black roof from Schwickerts would cost around $69,000. A white roof from Horizon is around $71,500. Both have a 20-year warranty.

Ostrom asked if they could just pay for the gym roof out of the general fund and find the money to do the rest of the roof later, or try to find financing for the whole thing.

"If you could finance the whole thing, yeah," said Moe. "But we have to get that gym roof fixed."

The board approved paying for a black roof from Schwickerts out the general fund.

Community Ed. Report

Community Ed. Director Holly Kanengeiter gave her annual report to the board on how the program is doing and what changes there will be for next year. She noted that this is her third year at the position, and recognized all the staff that helps her throughout the year.

Kanengeiter went over all of the Community Ed. programs, including SAC (School Age Child Care), ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education), Daycare, Youth Enrichment, and Summer Rec. She said ECFE has been very successful this year with Tonya Keim and Tara Corson running it. They had three sessions this spring and are hoping for four sessions next year, two in Preston and two in Harmony.

According to Kanengeiter, the daycare rooms are full and there is a waiting list. They have reduced the budget by $20,000 and will not be offering health benefits to employees next year.

The Homework Help program has worked well this year, and some money will be taken from Youth Enrichment classes to keep that going. This year for Summer Rec. the school is paying 20 percent and the city pays 80 percent. They are hopeful that next year the city will cover the expenses 100 percent.

Fall coaches

The board approved a list of fall coaches as suggested by Athletic Director Jane Montgomery. In football Chris Mensink will be the Head Coach, and Heath Olstad the Assistant Head. Darrin Ellsworth will coach B-squad, Nate Carlson 9th grade, Tim Ostrom 8th grade and Tris Tollefson 7th grade. Montgomery has the preliminary numbers and feels there are plenty of kids signed up to justify these coaching positions.

For volleyball, Kristi O'Connor will coach the varsity team, Jodie Daniels the B-squad team and Becky Mueller for Junior High. Montgomery also suggested adding another coach for junior high, as there are 21 girls signed up already. The board approved, under the condition that there are enough students.

Other Business

Retirement plaques were given to Leroy Wendell, Gary Feine and Judy Webster. Wendell has been with the district 13 years, Feine 33 years and Webster 29 years.

Three boys from the football team presented Montgomery with a check for $6,000 for equipment. Montgomery then turned the check over to the school.

The board approved the following items:

- The summer staff and hours for custodians

- The budget revision for 2008-2009

- Wage increase of two percent for Community Ed. staff

- Special Ed. summer school staff and hours

- An early admission to kindergarten on a trial basis

- The resignation of Judy Webster

- Staff for Summer Rec. Ryan Scheevel and Jim Peters will work in Harmony and Scheevel will also be the director in Preston.

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