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By Caroline Downs
“Basically, we’re a dedicated partner and extension of your staff,” Kraus-Anderson Construction Company vice president John Huenink told members of the Kenmare school board as he reviewed the company’s management services available for school district building projects.
Huenink, senior project manager Brian Hook and labor coordinator Jim Bergren all spoke during the Kenmare board’s November 20th meeting, after being invited by Superintendent Duane Mueller. A few weeks ago, Huenink coordinated repairs to eliminate odors in the Kenmare High School science classrooms, but his purpose in visiting with the school board was much broader as he explained how Kraus-Anderson would manage the proposed addition to Kenmare High School.
In addition to generally coordinating different contractors, Huenink emphasized the company would conduct an educational adequacy study to review the school facilities and determine the need for a building project. “Before getting started with your addition, we would talk with the principals and talk with staff about the numbers of kids, the needs right now, future needs and other issues,” he said. “We would help you put together a plan the community is going to embrace.”
If hired by the district, Kraus-Anderson would handle the bidding process for contractors and materials and provide a jobsite superintendent to coordinate all work among the crews and with school administrators. “Our job superintendents are actual qualified tradesmen,” said Bergren. “Not only are they managing the project, but they have their eyes on what’s happening out there.”
Huenink referred to a few projects in which the company is currently involved, including the construction of the new Ramstad Middle School, construction and remodeling at Longfellow Elementary School, and an addition at Lewis & Clark Elementary School in Minot, and projects for the Williston school district. The typical fee for Kraus-Anderson’s services is three to four percent of the total project cost.
Kenmare board members had several questions after the presentation, including the role of the job site superintendent, the projected timeline for construction and the source of contractors for the project.
Hook said local contractors are always preferred, but if none were available for different aspects of the project, contractors were often hired from the Minot, Fargo or Minneapolis-St. Paul areas. He noted the two elementary school projects in Minot would each take eight to ten months to complete, with 28,000 square feet of construction at Lewis & Clark and 40,000 square feet at Longfellow Elementary.
Hook estimated the project proposed for Kenmare at this time, with approximately 35,000 square feet, would take about seven months to finish if started during the spring.
The board did not take direct action to hire Kraus-Anderson. Instead, they decided to discuss the proposed project further with Kraus-Anderson at a board retreat scheduled for January 15, 2013.
“This project started because a lot of schools in the western part of the state have been caught,” said board member Lenny Rodin. “We wanted to get this started so when more students come, we’ll be ready. We need to decide what our plan is.”
Doug Miller agreed, adding that the need for the addition should be reviewed before going forward with the plan.
Craig Ellsworth, who has worked with Kraus-Anderson in a professional capacity, suggested asking the Kraus-Anderson representatives to consider the project need and talk with administrators and staff in the coming weeks, then discuss the responses with board members at the retreat.
Electric heat, dehumidifier and ceiling tile replacement
Rodin, as Building Committee chairman, reported on the committee’s recommendation to request bids for a 1,250 kW electric boiler for the high school, with a cost estimated at $230,000 by Obermiller Nelson Engineering of Fargo, who consulted on the proposed project.
Rodin also informed the board that Superintendent Mueller had arranged the purchase of an industrial-sized dehumidifier to operate in the crawl space below the high school classroom area.
Board members approved the Building Committee’s recommendation to schedule Rob Wittman Construction to remove and replace ceiling tiles at the high school. Superintendent Mueller will coordinate the project with Wittman, who will do the work at times school is not in session.
New bus conduct policy
Board members approved a new bus conduct policy on first reading.
The policy states the school district will provide safe transportation to students, which gives the district disciplinary authority over students while being transported to and from school during school-sponsored activities and events.
According to the policy, students are required to abide by all district conduct and safety policies while in school district vehicles. Students who violate any of the rules or policies may be subject to specified consequences. The school principals and superintendent have authority to enforce the policy and rules.
Bus conduct violation regulations and consequences were listed in a separate document that will be made available to parents and in the student handbook. Violations include refusing to obey the school bus or vehicle driver; failure to remain seated while the bus or vehicle is in motion; hanging out the window; fighting, horseplay or bullying; vandalism; profane language, yelling or screaming, use of alcohol or tobacco products; bringing weapons on board; throwing objects; or other behaviors deemed as inappropriate or unsafe.
If a student breaks any of the rules, the school bus or vehicle driver will notify that student’s principal, who will contact the parents and take any other necessary action, including suspending the student from riding school buses or vehicles.
Board members noted the security cameras now installed in the route buses should assist with disciplinary issues. “I think our drivers wouldn’t drive without them now,” said Superintendent Mueller.
“There’s not an inch of the bus you can’t see,” added Miller.
Classes for coaches
High school principal Robert Thom presented information to the board about the change in coaching requirements at the high school level beginning in the fall of 2013. Courses will be mandated in fundamentals of coaching, concussion management, first aid and CPR/AED use.
“The school’s I’ve talked to about this agree it’s not fair to make coaches pay for this out of their own pockets,” Thom said. “I wanted to find out the board’s thoughts to make this convenient.”
Superintendent Mueller told the board he wanted to see coaches for all teams in grades six and higher participate in the courses. Jan Kostad recommended the activities director and events supervisor both take the courses as well.
“Doing this earns them a coaching credential,” Thom said. “Actually, we’d like to make the first aid and CPR courses available for the entire staff.”
The school board completed its semi-annual evaluation of Superintendent Mueller, after reviewing comments he submitted for 10 evaluation categories.
Board members rated Mueller as satisfactory in his relations with the board and relations with the community.
The board rated Mueller as satisfactory in his abilities to recruit and retain staff members. Miller praised Mueller for hiring teachers who were willing to take on additional roles as coaches and advisors. “Those are the kind of teachers we need to have in these small communities,” Miller said, “teachers who do a little more than just the average.”
Board members noted Mueller’s attention to student safety as they rated him “satisfactory” in his relations with students and parents. Regarding a satisfactory rating in financial management skills, business manager Renae Murphy noted Mueller’s interest in researching grants available to the school district to assist in covering costs for various projects.
The board rated Mueller as satisfactory in his educational leadership skills and in his supervision of buildings and grounds. Board members again requested a list of duties covered by the custodial staff and discussed the need for adding another custodian.
The board gave Mueller a satisfactory rating for his supervision of transportation and for his professional and personal development and characteristics.
Board members rated Mueller satisfactory in extracurricular programs. They also asked to see job descriptions written for the activities director and events supervisor in a way that would better designate the duties covered by the events supervisor.
In other business:
•Murphy reported the district was carrying a balance about $200,000 higher than at this time a year ago. “Keep in mind, our carryover from last year was about that much,” she said.
•Elementary principal Janis Gerding reported students’ time recorded for the IXL online math program rose from 272 hours in October to 576 hours in November. “The kids are working hard and the teachers are doing a good job keeping the kids motivated,” she said. “Ninety-eight percent of the kids are using the program.”
•Gerding announced the addition of three new students during the past week. Total enrollment at the elementary school was 173 students, including 36 kids in kindergarten.
•Gerding noted Kenmare Elementary School was selected to receive a $1500 grant from Enbridge, Inc., that will be used to fund a reading incentive program for students during the months of February, March and April.
•Rodin and Superintendent Mueller summarized the Curriculum & Technology Committee meeting for board members, listing the Common Core Standards, the district’s current technology status, scheduling needs and graduation requirements among topics discussed by the committee. Kostad noted the district was considering dividing another class at the elementary level for the 2013-2014 school year, with 11 teachers and classrooms needed.
•The board approved open enrollment applications for two students in first and third grades currently living in Bowbells while waiting for housing to become available in Kenmare. Board members also approved two open enrollment applications for a third grader and a seventh grader already attending Kenmare schools whose family moved from Bowbells to Tolley.
•Rodin voiced his concerns about the lack of a dress code for physical education and sports practices, especially for girls in those activities. Thom said he would discuss the matter with high school physical education Brock Zietz, who also coaches girls basketball.
•Superintendent Mueller said board members were welcome to visit Powers Lake Public School to see how that district is using a portable classroom. He also reported the Mobius Climber had been installed for students on the playground behind the high school. Pea gravel will be spread below the equipment next spring.
•The next regular meeting of the Kenmare School board will take place Tuesday, December 18th, at 6 pm.
•The Kenmare school board will hold a retreat January 15, 2013, beginning at 8:30 am, to discuss future building, classroom and staffing needs in the district.