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Classroom odor to be cleared up

The Kenmare school board tackled several building and maintenance issues during its regular meeting held September 18th.

9/26/12 (Wed)

Kenmare School Board meets

By Caroline Downs

The Kenmare school board tackled several building and maintenance issues during its regular meeting held September 18th.

Board members asked questions about a problem with air quality in a group of classrooms, noting that parents had contacted them regarding musty and moldy smells. Some students and adults working in those classrooms experienced allergic responses to the odors, with congestion and other respiratory symptoms most commonly reported. Other students did not report any reactions.

Superintendent Duane Mueller explained water was present in a crawl space under the classroom portion of the high school building. “There’s a thin layer of muck there now,” he said.

Trapdoors in some classrooms that allowed access to the crawl space had been opened in several instances, allowing the smells to intensify on the main floor. “It’s the nasty, flooded stink of a basement,” Mueller said.

He told board members that SERVPRO of Minot would send a crew to clean the space on September 20th. “Then we have Innovative Basement Systems coming October 2nd to see what we can do to eliminate that problem,” he said.

High school principal Robert Thom told board members he had worked with custodian Jerry Mickelsen to address the problem. “Jerry told me this is his 28th year, and there’s water down there every single year,” Thom said.

According to Mueller, an assessment done by a SERVPRO representative showed the area to be clear of black mold. Mueller also noted SERVPRO promised the area would be the cleanest part of the building when they finished their work.

Possible solution for
ceiling tile replacement
Rob Wittman of Wittman Construction in Kenmare talked to the board about removal and replacement of ceiling tiles in sections of the high school building.

Wittman had a copy of an earlier evaluation done on the tiles by the North Dakota Department of Health, provided to him by former board member Mike Zimmer. “The report says the tiles tested at one percent asbestos, and through my research, these can be treated as non-asbestos material,” he said. “Asbestos abatement isn’t necessary. Anything over one percent is treated as asbestos material.”

He said he would still take precautions in handling the material to reduce the amount of dust and debris created by removal. He also suggested the district discuss the project with the state health department and verify the one percent asbestos level prior to removing any tiles.

Wittman provided estimates for the project, according to sections of the building. Cost for labor and materials related to removing the old tiles and installing new ones in the business office area would be $16,328 and in the commons area, $40,720.

Cost for doing the work in the locker rooms would be $29,660; in the ramp areas, $64,448; and in the back (east) entry to the building, $3,628.

Total cost for the project would be $154,784.00. However, Wittman said he would prefer to do the project in sections during breaks in the school schedule.

Board members reminded Wittman any project over $25,000 was required to have bids submitted. “But we requested bids before and we didn’t receive any,” Jan Kostad added.

Kostad asked if tile samples would be available for the board’s review. “This will be a cellulose-based ceiling tile,” Wittman said, “a standard grade tile.”

“If the Health Department says it’s okay, let him do the back entry way and see what it looks like,” suggested business manager Renae Murphy.

The board has prioritized the need to replace the ceiling tiles since the renovation and remodeling project started at the high school in 2010.

Marquee sign going up
in front of high school
Board members finalized plans to place a digital marquee sign designed for the Kenmare school district. Building Committee chairman Lenny Rodin announced the company was ready to install the sign, and he read from the minutes of the July board meeting to remind board members they voted at that time to place the sign near the junction of U.S. Highway 52 and Ward County 2 through Kenmare, on school property.

However, some board members expressed concern a sign in that location would not be noticed because of the busy intersection. Board member Craig Ellsworth also raised the issue of maintenance and practicality of the sign’s placement.

After lengthy discussion, board members took a roll call vote on a motion to place the marquee sign in front of Kenmare High School, near the school’s flagpole. The motion passed 6-1, with Rodin casting the only dissenting vote.

Rodin noted the majority of the sign’s cost was paid by a local donor who was advertising on the sign. Miller said he would contact the donor to explain the change in the sign’s location.

Next steps in high
school expansion proposal
Superintendent Mueller suggested the board talk with representatives from Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, based in Circle Pine, MN, regarding the proposed expansion project at the high school. “They’re interested in overseeing the entire project,” he said, adding the fee would be 3 or 3.5 percent of the entire cost.

He explained the company is currently doing similar work on building projects at Minot State University and Minot Public Schools, and approached him about the ideas proposed for Kenmare High School.

Kraus-Anderson will also send a construction crew within the next two weeks to deal with the gas odor issues in the science classrooms, according to Mueller.

Board members agreed to meet with Kraus-Anderson personnel at the November 20th meeting.

More projects underway
The Building Committee reported they would meet with contractors from Obermiller Nelson Engineering of Fargo on September 26th to discuss plans to convert the high school’s heating system from a coal-fired to electric boiler system.

Rodin noted the committee would contact MDU about drilling the hole necessary for the new basketball hoop to be erected at the elementary school.

Members of the Building Committee announced plans to install the new Mobius climber with the other playground equipment behind Kenmare High School. Doug Miller said he would handle the concrete work, then contact board members and other parents about putting the climber together according to a layout provided by Dakota Fence.

On the Building Committee’s recommendation, the board approved a motion to have the old chimney room demolished at Kenmare Elementary School, with a new exterior wall built, if a previous quote for the work submitted by Farden Construction for $25,000 was still acceptable.

Activities Committee
makes changes in
use of Memorial Hall
In response to a request from the Kenmare City Council, members of the Activities Committee met with council representatives to discuss the school’s lease regarding use of the Memorial Hall gym and locker rooms.

Activities Committee chairman Doug Miller reported the group discussed various concerns about janitorial duties and decided the best approach was to provide coaches with keys to the locker rooms during sports seasons.

“The coaches can monitor the kids going in and out of there and lock it when they leave,” Miller said. “We’ll give the coaches a list of things to look for. Everyone agrees this is going to be a problem solver.”

The committee also discussed problems with low attendance at the recognition and awards ceremonies held after the fall, winter and spring sports seasons. Kostad suggested holding the awards ceremony in conjunction with an activity already on the school calendar. Board members and Thom liked the idea, and Thom will schedule the awards ceremonies accordingly.

Finally, the committee established a cap of $10,000 charged to schools who enter cooperative agreements with the Kenmare district for sports teams.

Miller reported each school pays $500 per student who participates at this time, with eight kids from Burke Central playing for the Kenmare-Bowbells-Burke Central junior high football team. “The numbers would have to go up to reach that cap,” Miller said.

Board members agreed with the action. “Our students cost that much to outfit,” Kostad said.

No objections to
district mill levy increase
No district patrons voiced objections to the mill levy increase proposed by the Kenmare School District.

A public hearing was held at the beginning of the board meeting to review the increase. For 2011, the district levied 103.56 mills to generate a total of $1,008,028. Taxable value of the district for the year was $9,733,754.

For 2012, Murphy estimated an increase of five percent in the district’s taxable value, for a total of $10,220,440. She noted Ward County informed her the increase in the county could be as high as eight percent, but she reminded board members that the Kenmare district is spread across four counties.

With the estimated taxable value increase, the district would levy 104.76 mills, to generate $1,070,712 for the general fund. One mill in the Kenmare district would generate $10,220. The district has budgeted just over $4 million for the fiscal year’s expenses.

In Other Business:
• Board members approved minutes of the August meeting and the district’s bills for payment, as presented.

• Murphy reported the district still owed about $40,000 on the new activity bus, which will be delivered later this fall. She also noted the Hot Lunch account was doing well. More students participate in the breakfast program than before, and more students are eating the noon meal as well. During a particular day the previous week, 216 of the 223 students holding meal tickets chose to eat at the high school.

• The board approved contracts issued to Shannon Grondahl as science coordinator, Shayne Haustveit as student council advisor, Danny Schlosser as 5th and 6th grade boys basketball coach, and Mike Johnson and Robert Thom as co-event supervisors.

• Board members who plan to attend all or portions of the North Dakota School Board Association annual convention scheduled October 25-27 in Bismarck included Lars Christensen, Ellsworth, Blaine Huff, Miller, Michele Nelson and Rodin. Ellsworth will serve as the district’s official delegate.

•The board approved open enrollment applications for four students who moved outside the Kenmare school district boundaries but who intend to continue their educations at Kenmare schools, including two from Tolley, one from Carpio and one from Bowbells.

• Superintendent Mueller reminded board members to review the English Language Learners (ELL) Policy for the district.

• Board members received copies of the audit report for approval at the October meeting.

• Thom reported he received no applications for the coaching jobs listed previously, except from John Fetterhoff of Kenmare, who inquired about coaching the 7th and 8th grade girls basketball team. “That season would tentatively start October 22nd,” Thom said, “and would be over at the break for Christmas vacation.”

Thom coached the team last season and expressed his interest in continuing, but board members preferred he concentrate on his administrative and activities director duties. They directed him to offer the position to Fetterhoff, on the condition Fetterhoff obtains his bus license to transport the players to practices and games.

• Superintendent Mueller reported on behalf of elementary principal Janis Gerding that students in grades kindergarten through six had logged 59 hours and 9 minutes to date on the IXL online math program, which allows students to work independently on their skills. “Everything with this is being done outside of class time,” Mueller said. “They’ve completed over 8,900 problems.”

Huff noted his daughter in kindergarten enjoyed working on the program, done at home from the family’s computer.

• Elementary students are receiving snacks again through the federal Fresh Fruits and Vegetables grant program.

• Superintendent Mueller announced a total enrollment of 298 students for the district, as of September 17th, with the following grade level numbers:

Kindergarten-35; First grade-18; Second grade-24; Third grade-24; Fourth grade-21; Fifth grade-24; Sixth grade-25; Seventh grade-19; Eighth grade-25; Freshmen-20; Sophomores-20; Juniors-27; Seniors-16.

• The Building Committee, with members Rodin, Miller and Nelson, will meet Wednesday, September 26th, at 8 am at the high school.

• The Policy Committee, with members Huff, Nelson and Ellsworth, will meet Thursday, October 11th, at 8:30 am at the high school.

• The next regular meeting of the Kenmare school board is scheduled for Tuesday, October 16th at 7 pm.