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School board cites safety and efficiency for school addition...

An architect from Minot and a construction supervisor from Bismarck were both in Kenmare on July 17 to let Kenmare School District patrons know about a new plan to bring all students on to one campus.

7/24/18 (Tue)

An architect from Minot and a construction supervisor from Bismarck were both in Kenmare on July 17 to let Kenmare School District patrons know about a new plan to bring all students on to one campus.

The school board is expected to ask for a bond issue in the coming months.

A bond issue attempt was made in November 2013, but it was voted down.

Jim Perras, the market leader for CCC Construction in Bismarck, said he and architect Doug Larson, as well as the Kenmare School Board, just wanted to visit with patrons and let them know why it’s important for the school board to consider this change now.

“No decisions have been made,” Perras said. “The school board is here to listen.”

Jason Zeltinger, Lars Christensen and Blaine Huff sit on the building committee and Perras said he was hoping that some people in the audience would join them in planning for the future.

Larson discussed the failed bond issue in 2013 and added this time around, it’s a much better plan.

“This time it’s more feasible for taxpayers,” Larson said. “With the condition of the elementary, the one campus will make us more efficient and safe. We don’t have safety. It’s a major concern for schools these days.”

The meeting was held in the elementary multi-purpose room and Larson pointed out a number of electrical outlets that were added after the school was built.

He said the elementary school isn’t up to code and to make it so would be prohibitively expensive.

Larson said there is a board resolution to combine pre-Kindergarten to grade 12 by the fall of 2021. In order to make that happen, a lot of work needs to be done between now and then.

“We’re hoping to bring a bond in the fall and be under one roof by 2021,” he said. “This plan fits us for the next 50 years.”

According to Perras, CCC works with 23 school districts in North Dakota and is currently wrapping up an expansion in Glenburn.

He said it’s pretty common these days to have security systems in public schools.

“After Columbine, we talked about it, but we were uncomfortable,” Perras said. “Now, we don’t even bring it up.”

Perras asked the approximate 25 people in attendance at what point do the taxpayers stop investing in the old building?

“The cost to keep maintenance for the past 10 years made the school board pause and look at other options,” he said.

Outgoing school board President Doug Miller said  CCC and JLG were tasked with helping with the planning and master planning, said education has changed a lot since the Kenmare Elementary School was built in 1957.

“Students and teachers collaborate today,” he said. “How can you do that in this school.”

Miller talked more about security. He said security is something the community wants.

That means the front door, classroom wings and a separate public space could all be made secure in the master plan of the school update.

“We want to plan for the future but not overbuild right now,” he said. “This plan gives us access to add later.”

Miller stressed how important it is for Kenmare to have a school of choice. He said it attracts students, attracts teachers and it provides for the opportunity to host revenue-generating sports tournaments.

A primary gymnasium that would seat 1,250 would be built immediately to the east of the present high school with new space for the elementary children immediately south of the present building. A second entrance would be created so the elementary students are segregated.

Perras broke the theoretical cost down. With an approximate price tag of $15 million, taxes would increase through a bond issue.

On a $140,000 home, the increased tax would be $327.98 annually or $27.37 per month. On a $120,000 home, the increased tax would be $281.12, or $23.43 per month. And with an $80,000 home, the increased tax would be $187.42, or $15.62 per month.

On average agricultural land, which is valued at approximately $602 per acre, the increased tax would be $1.57 per acre. On higher value farm land, which as a true and full value of $741, the increased tax would be $1.93 per acre per year.

“It’s time,” Miller said. “This building doesn’t meet the standards and is past its time. We want Kenmare to be a school of choice in attracting young families.”

Perras added bond interest rates are at a near 30-year low and anytime a loan for more than $10 million is taken, 2 percent is shaved off the interest. He said that could save the school as much as $2 million for the 20-year life of the loan.

Miller, who was instrumental in getting the ball rolling on the new vo-tech building, said the board would like to see a referendum vote in November.

“Something we haven’t talked about much is special needs,” he said. “They deserve a chance like everyone else.

Miller said the board will continue to present information to the public as it becomes available and Larson and Perras both said information will be available on the school’s website...  Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!