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By Caroline Downs
Preliminary sketches of an addition proposed for the north side of Kenmare High School showed six new classrooms, a second gymnasium and a community wellness center to accommodate the school district’s needs.
“This is just a draft,” emphasized Kenmare School Board Building Committee member Jan Kostad as he unrolled the schematics for the other members of the committee to view during a meeting held July 2nd.
“This is not final, and it’s going to take a lot of discussion,” Kostad said.
As prepared by Davison Larson Architects in Minot, from notes provided by the Building Committee, the addition has 27,000 square feet on the main floor, including six new classrooms at 900 square feet apiece and a wellness center at 3,000 square feet with a separate weight room.
Other features of the main floor are locker rooms, a storage area or possible secretary’s office, and hallways connecting to the main building with space for student lockers.
The second story, with approximately 9,000 square feet, includes a walking track overlooking the gym floor, mechanical room and additional storage space.
Kostad said architect Don Larson had not provided any cost estimates yet, but would be able to offer a projection after a bid opening takes place July 17th for another school project the firm has designed.
For the sake of discussion only, Kostad tossed out the idea of building at $200 per square foot, with the addition’s main floor coming in around $5.4 million and the second floor at about another $1 million.
“We have to look at this as a long-term use of the school property,” he said. “As a committee and as a group, we need to look ahead. We need to show we have some plans, some ideas, and yes, it’s going to cost some dollars.”
Members of the Building Committee, together with Superintendent Duane Mueller and business manager Renae Murphy, studied the preliminary sketches and raised several ideas about security, placement of restrooms, remodeling the current weight room into a girls locker room, concessions areas, the number of classrooms needed, the lunch schedule, use of the wellness center by the public, and use of the second gym for practices, tournaments, elementary physical education classes and even recess.
The number of additional classrooms was a major topic of discussion, with questions about housing all the grades in one building. Murphy noted that making the addition large enough for grades kindergarten through 12 would allow the district to sell the current elementary school property, with the proceeds used to help fund the addition project.
“That would also save on maintenance costs,” she said.
Kostad believed both buildings could be necessary. “The idea is to bring in more classrooms,” he said. “If the city develops as they say it will, we’ll have a need in grades K through 6 for two classrooms each. If that’s the case, I see a need to use the old elementary building.”
The committee also talked about which grades would use the new classrooms.
Kostad had assumed the elementary students could be located together in the addition, but recent renovations at Kenmare High School resulted in two classrooms built with bathrooms attached for the possibility of housing kindergarten and first grade students.
Committee members discussed having junior high or high school classes use the new classrooms, except for science and technology courses, leaving a group of rooms in the current high school building available for elementary use.
Committee member Lenny Rodin raised the idea of constructing the basic “shell” for the addition, then finishing various portions through the years as funds became available or were raised through private donations.
Kostad said some portions of the addition, such as the gym and the wellness center, might be funded completely through sponsors or other private sources.
“We could get the shell up so people can see a project,” Rodin said. “They can see something to finish off.”
Superintendent Mueller liked the idea of more classrooms, but he pointed out the school could have an immediate concern with kindergarten and second grade already divided between two rooms and two sections of third grade moved to the high school building for the coming school year.
“What will be our plan if we need classrooms?” he asked.
The group agreed that investing in a portable classroom or two could be necessary until any building project was approved and completed.
Committee members made several suggestions and revisions for the sketches, and directed Kostad to communicate those changes with Larson. The proposed addition would have to be approved by voters, who could be asked to approve a special mill levy to fund the project.
Before the proposal is listed on the ballot, however, Kostad suggested the school board form a Steering Committee when the plans were finalized. “We need to have members of the Building Committee and people from the community,” he said, “and we need to determine the costs for the different sections, like the gym and the wellness center.”
Kostad intended to have revised sketches to show the entire school board at the July 17th meeting, scheduled for 8 am at Kenmare High School.
Sign or no sign
The installation of a digital marquee sign to advertise school activities is on hold until sponsors can be found to foot the bill.
The committee has a quote from Indigo Signworks for a sign measuring 11’2” wide by 11’10” high, standing at a height of 21’4”, for a cost of $42,000. Kenmare Veteran’s Club, Inc., committed $10,000 toward the purchase of the sign, while the school district would pay up to $10,000.
The cost for electrical work on the sign has not been factored into the total expense.
Members of the Building Committee spoke with Trinity Hospital officials about sponsoring the balance of the sign’s cost in exchange for advertising on the sign itself, but that request was refused.
“I think we can still find a sponsor or an advertiser,” Rodin said.
The location for the sign has not yet been determined, with sites in front of Kenmare High School and along U.S. Highway 52 discussed.
“Why do we want the sign?” Mueller asked. “Determine that purpose, and then determine where we’re going to put it.”
Murphy said the sign would be useful for reminding district patrons of the times for various school events and activities.
Members of the Building Committee said they would contact potential advertisers and sponsors, with space available on the sign for up to four sponsors per side.
Elementary kids attending Kenmare High School will have the opportunity to improve their strength, balance and climbing skills on a Mobius climbing wall during recess, if the full board approves the Building Committee’s planned recommendation.
Murphy announced that over $13,000 was available for the purchase of playground equipment, including a $10,000 grant that required the purchase and installation of new equipment by December 2012.
The district received a bid from Dakota Fence for $10,600 for the climbing wall. The Mobius Climber was included in the original list of playground equipment installed last year, but that particular piece was omitted before the order because of its cost.
The Dakota Fence bid did not include installation costs. Parents, board members and students volunteered last fall to install the new playground equipment, and Rodin said he believed similar help would be available to set up the Mobius Climber.
The Building Committee will also recommend the purchase of two new basketball hoops for playground use and check prices to have the court sealed at the elementary school.
Other work that will be done for the elementary playground includes killing weeds growing on the basketball court, black dirt fill at two locations on the grounds, and the addition of wood chips under the swings.
In other discussion:
• Committee members agreed to recommend to the full board that an engineering firm should be hired to develop the schematics for an electrical heating system at the high school. The Building Committee has discussed replacing the current coal system with an electric furnace, but the project cannot be bid until schematics are available. Murphy pointed out an electric system would save the district money in maintenance costs.
• Superintendent Mueller announced cameras would be installed on all the district’s route buses beginning July 11th.
• Mueller asked the committee about expanding the use of security cameras in the gym, auditorium and commons area at the high school, for an estimated cost of less than $5000.00. Committee members encouraged him to pursue the project. “We’ve seen the importance of having the cameras,” Rodin said.
• The committee agreed with Mueller that for the sake of student safety, especially with higher numbers of young students, access to the paved loop in front of the high school and the parking area at the back of the school should be changed.
Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, use of the loop will be restricted to buses after the school day is complete, and the area will be marked with signs.
A specific site for dropping off students will be created along the south sidewalk of the high school. Access to the back doors will be limited and marked with signs and barricades.