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Huff and Miller on school board as Johnson and Zimmer make their exits

The Kenmare school board welcomed two new members at the July 17th meeting as the board reorganized for the 2012-2013 school year.

7/24/12 (Tue)

By Caroline Downs

The Kenmare school board welcomed two new members at the July 17th meeting as the board reorganized for the 2012-2013 school year.

Blaine Huff and Doug Miller, elected to the rural at-large positions for three-year terms, were seated as new board members. Board president Lars Christensen thanked them for running for the positions. “I think more people should try to get on a school board or a city council,” said Christensen. “There’s a lot more to it than most people think.”

Christensen also recognized Roger Johnson, who chose not to run for re-election, for his 15 years of service to the district.

“It’s been a fun ride,” Johnson said as he listed the one-line salary schedule, the high school renovation and remodeling project, and working with four superintendents among the highlights of his tenure on the board. “And it’s all been a learning experience.”

Lenny Rodin expressed his gratitude for outgoing board member Mike Zimmer’s dedication to the board during his term. “You have set the bar high for the work you have done outside of this committee room,” Rodin said.

Christensen was re-elected as board president, after announcing his interest in continuing his work in the position. Jan Kostad was re-elected as vice-president.

Donors come forward
for new marquee sign
Rodin announced that State Bank & Trust of Kenmare offered to donate $30,000 of the approximately $42,000 cost of a digital marquee sign to be erected on the north end of the Kenmare High School property, near the state volleyball championship sign already in place. Kenmare Veteran’s Club Inc. has already committed $10,000 for the sign.

According to Rodin, the four designated advertising slots on the sign will be reserved for State Bank & Trust of Kenmare, Jorgenson Insurance, Danish Mill Realty and Kenmare Veteran’s Club, Inc. “They’d like to see us advertise community events, too,” Rodin said.

The suggested location for the sign will allow easier access to electricity, with Rodin reporting from a meeting with MDU representatives that the company would provide the power.

“We just have to get the meter socket and everything after the meter socket,” added Zimmer. “We would have to hire an electrician to hook the electrical [service] to the sign.”

The board approved a motion to make the purchase from Indigo Signs of Minot and complete the necessary electrical work, at a cost to the district of no more than $10,000.

Revised concept plan
for high school addition
Discussion about pending and proposed building projects dominated the meeting, with nine items under consideration.

Building Committee chairman Zimmer presented a revised concept plan for the addition to Kenmare High School, designed by Davison Larson Associates of Minot. “There are a lot of things to look at here yet,” he cautioned as he explained the purpose of the drawing was to start talking about the need for additional space at the school.

“This is just the planning phase,” added committee member Rodin. “We’re no doubt going to tweak this.”

The revised concept plan includes 30,000 square feet on the main floor to include a gymnasium, locker rooms, four classrooms on each side of the gym, an expanded corridor on the south end of the addition that could also serve as a small commons area, a 4,000 square-foot wellness center and weight room on the north end of the addition to be shared with the community, and locker-lined corridors on either side of the new gym to connect directly to the existing corridors on the north side of the present gym.

The plan also features a second story walking track above the gymnasium, with a mechanical room and a wrestling room.

 “The architect thought adding the second floor would cost a lot of money,” Zimmer said, “but we would still have to the mechanical room and wrestling room somewhere.”

As board members reviewed the plans, they talked about securing the wellness center separate from the school, staffing and maintaining the wellness center, and separate funding for portions of the addition.

An estimated cost for the addition has not been provided yet, but Rodin said a bid opening for a school project in Minot held July 17th would provide a measure of comparison for the KHS project.

The Building Committee will continue working with the architect to finalize a design that may be presented for public discussion and vote, depending on further board action.

“What I’d say is, don’t think too small on this [project],” Johnson advised.

Playground equipment, furnace,
ceiling tiles
and floor tiles
Zimmer reported the Building Committee recommended spending $10,000 in grant and matching funds for a Mobius Climber to add to the playground equipment behind the high school. The committee also suggested purchasing a $2,000 adjustable basketball hoop. “The taller hoop at the elementary school doesn’t get used very often,” Zimmer said. “We thought we’d like to take that one down and put the new one up there.”

He noted he had talked to Preston Sandberg and Brandon Nelson of Sandberg Redi-Mix about getting the new hoop installed properly.

Zimmer also emphasized the committee’s concern about the age and condition of the current coal-fired boiler at the high school and the need to replace that heating system. “We recommend we hire an engineer to get some schematics for our furnace project so we can bid it in October or November,” he said. “We can’t bid it until we have those schematics.”

The board approved a motion to pay up to $10,000 and hire an engineering firm to complete that work.

Zimmer added that the committee wanted to see the long-standing ceiling tile replacement project at the high school, which involves asbestos abatement and removal, tied to the high school addition project at a later date.

Michele Nelson voiced her interest in completing the tile project sooner. “That would improve the appearance of that area,” she said. “It’s necessary because those tiles are deteriorating.”

“The committee believes the furnace is more of a necessity,” Zimmer responded. “If something happened there, it would be a disaster.”

Superintendent Duane Mueller reported cost estimates to remove and replace the entire tile floor in the commons and ramp area, following repairs that had to be made last winter after large sections of that tile buckled. “Option one, for the main commons area only, materials and labor would be $117,136.27,” he said, “and they could be done by the time school starts August 21st. Option two with the ramps would cost another $25,000.”

Mueller explained the tile company who did the repair work believes the original tile work was finished without enough expansion joints. Neither he nor the company could predict if the tile would heave or buckle again.

Rodin suggested removing the grout from the outer edges of the commons floor to provide room for the floor to expand as necessary.

No motion was made regarding tile work in the commons area. “I think we need to try a few things first,” Christensen said.

According to business manager Renae Murphy, the original tile floor cost $36,000 when installed in 2000.

In other business:
• Board member approved minutes of the June meeting and the district’s bills for payment, as presented.

• The board approved contracts issued to four returning certified staff members and administrators Duane Mueller and Robert Thom, as well as contracts for nine coaching and advisor positions and Thom’s position as activities director. Thom also returned contracts to serve as the high school’s events supervisor and 7th and 8th grade girls basketball coach, but board members expressed concerns about the additional responsibilities. The board will discuss the matter with Thom before making a decision about the two extra-duty contracts.

• Board members received copies of the uncollected taxes list from two counties within the school district, but Murphy announced the list from Ward County had not been received yet. The board will review those lists when all information is available.

• Board members approved the Consolidated Grant application for federal programs, including $91,422 from Title I and $36,397 from Title II. According to Murphy, the Title I funds are used primarily to pay the salaries and benefits of the district’s Title I teachers, while the Title II funds are applied toward the kindergarten program.

• The board appointed Superintendent Mueller as the Federal Program/Title Coordinator for the district during the 2012-2013 school year, and designated The Kenmare News as the district’s official newspaper.

• Murphy summarized a letter from the city council’s Beautification and Health Committee outlining concerns about the city’s lease with the school district for the use of the Memorial Hall. Questions were included about restocking supplies at the Hall and cleaning duties of the school custodial staff.

“Our guys do go down there and clean,” Murphy said. “I don’t know how much, but they clean the areas we use.”

Board members agreed the Activities Committee should meet with the city’s Beautification and Health Committee to review the lease and discuss the questions. The current lease runs through 2014.

• Superintendent Mueller announced all teaching vacancies had been filled with the hiring of a high school business teacher. The contract for that position will be returned by the August board meeting. He noted several coaching positions had yet to be filled and the district would advertise for those positions immediately. Christensen emphasized the need to hire substitute bus drivers this year and to consider the need to fill route driver positions in the future.

• Mueller reported the security camera system at the high school would be expanded to include the auditorium, gymnasium area and front of the building. Installation of the additional cameras and equipment was scheduled to begin July 17th.

• Mueller listed August 7th and 8th as registration dates for the upcoming school year, with all students in grades kindergarten through 12 to register at Kenmare High School. August 16th will be a meeting day for the district’s new staff members and August 20th will be an inservice day for all staff members, with classes beginning for students on August 21st.

• Mueller announced a letter had been prepared for parents and students regarding appropriate behavior while riding the district’s buses, now equipped with security cameras. The information will be posted on each bus and included in the student handbooks. Nelson asked about developing a policy addressing expected bus behavior and consequences for violating the rules. Mueller referred that task to the board’s Policy Committee.

• Nelson asked about the need for more playground supervision at the high school, given that more elementary-age students would be using that building. Mueller said the only time that might be necessary would be in the mornings before classes started, when all the elementary students use the playground area together.

• Nelson described her interest in a mentoring program to pair new staff members in the district with experienced teachers. “I think that would be helpful for everyone,” she said.

Mueller responded by saying many districts implemented such programs by paying a stipend to the teachers involved. “Our staff is veteran enough, they take it upon themselves to do that,” he said.

• The next regular meeting of the Kenmare School Board will be held Tuesday, August 14, 2012, beginning at 7 am at Kenmare High School. Board members agreed upon the early morning time because of the expected harvest work. Nelson said the board needed the flexibility to arrange meeting times around other commitments, and Huff said he believed the public would attend an early morning meeting if they were interested.

“We could set a time and a date that’s more consistent,” said Murphy, “but that never works.”