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School board continues work on building issues

Various building projects dominated the Kenmare school board’s discussion again during a meeting held October 16th.

10/31/12 (Wed)

By Caroline Downs

Various building projects dominated the Kenmare school board’s discussion again during a meeting held October 16th.

The most pressing issue involved water in the crawl space beneath the classroom pod. A SERVPRO crew from Minot cleaned the area and set fans in the space to dry the area, for a cost of approximately $20,000.

“Before the cleanup, they measured 80 percent humidity down there,” said Superintendent Duane Mueller. “They got it down to 52 percent, but when Innovative Basement Systems went down there, the humidity was back up to 72 or 73 percent. With that little bit of rain we had, we had water down there already.”

Mueller described a plan by Innovative Basement Systems to fix the water retention problem, including installation of a plastic liner in the crawl space along with a system of sump pumps, air purifiers and dehumidifiers. Cost for the materials and labor was estimated at $86,000.

“That seems like a lot of money,” said Doug Miller. “Is it necessary for the liner? Is there any way we could cut some corners?”

“Is this something we could monitor for a while?” added Michele Nelson.

Superintendent Mueller said the issue was air quality. “First, we need to try to contain the water that’s coming in,” he said. “Then work with the air quality.

Miller and Nelson repeated their statements about the high cost and monitoring the problem. “If we kept it dry down there, that would definitely help,” Miller said. “We could put a couple sumps down there and run some one-inch pipe. We’ll look into it on the Building Committee.”

Mueller also noted a heat line installed through the crawl space was broken, with repair work scheduled. “That line puts air into the system,” he said, adding the damaged line could be impacting the heat distribution in the classrooms.

Ceiling tile surprise
After discussing removal and replacement of ceiling tiles in the commons, office and locker room areas for nearly three years, board members were shocked to learn the latest tile sample did not contain any measurable asbestos.

Superintendent Duane Mueller read from the lab report dated October 15, 2012. “They took these samples in September,” he said, “and regarding the percentage of asbestos, none was detected.”

As board members expressed their disbelief, Mueller said the lab reviewed the 1988 report about the tiles and discovered numbers in the report that were incorrect and led to the misinformation about the presence of asbestos in the ceiling tiles.

The board briefly discussed the proposal by Rob Wittman Construction to remove and replace the ceiling tiles. The matter was referred to the Building Committee for further recommendations.

In other maintenance and building concerns, Building Committee chairman Lenny Rodin reported on the meeting with representatives from Obermiller Nelson Engineering of Fargo about options for replacing the current coal-fired heating system at the high school. A report has been received from the engineers, with four options for the Building Committee to consider.

Finally, the board approved a motion to hire Dakota Fence to install the Mobius Climber playground equipment at the high school. A former cost estimate for the installation was $3500.

“It’s nice to get volunteers, but we get busy and it gets to be later on in the year,” said board president Lars Christensen as he voiced his support for hiring the installation work done. Several pieces of related playground equipment were erected during the fall of 2011 with assistance from parent volunteers.

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

•Blaine Huff reported the Policy Committee worked on drafting a new bus conduct policy for the district. The policy will be finalized and sent out to all board members for their review. First reading of the policy will occur at the November meeting.

•The board talked about reading or printing the sports Code of Conduct for all home sports activities. “At Mohall, they read the sports code of conduct before the game,” Michele Nelson said. “I thought it was a good idea.” Christensen directed the matter to the board Activities Committee.

•Board members approved open enrollment applications for two students in third and seventh grade who attend Kenmare schools but moved to Bowbells after the open enrollment deadline.

•The board approved the superintendent’s evaluation form, which includes self-evaluation statements from Superintendent Mueller.

•Board members approved the district audit by Emil Schoenfish as presented.

•Elementary principal Janis Gerding reported enrollment remained at 171 students, with two students moving out of the district but two more arriving.

•Gerding announced the IXL math program was a hit with the students. As of the board meeting, Kenmare elementary students had spent 272 hours and 57 minutes on the computer program, completing 40,814 math problems. “It is really an enrichment for at home,” she said, although some students do log into the program from computers at school during extra time they may have in class. According to Gerding, 96 percent of Kenmare’s elementary students are using the program.

•Gerding discussed her research into the technology programs Reading180 and Learn360 as strategies to improve students’ classroom skills. Both programs are widely used across the state and nation. She also noted she had applied for a grant from Enbridge to develop a reading incentive program for the elementary students, with the grant awards to be announced within two weeks.

•Superintendent Mueller announced a plumber would be working in the science classrooms October 19th to eliminate the pervasive gas smell.

•The Curriculum and Technology Committee, with members Christensen, Jan Kostad and Rodin, will schedule a meeting before the next board meeting.

•The Building Committee, with members Rodin, Nelson and Miller, will meet Tuesday, November 6, at 7:30 am at the high school. The agenda will include discussion about a new heating system, replacement of the ceiling tiles and the new addition at the high school.

•The next meeting of the Kenmare School Board will take place Tuesday, November 20th, beginning at 6 pm, with the superintendent’s evaluation on the agenda. Superintendent Mueller and interested board members will meet at 5 pm that evening with representatives from Kraus-Anderson to discuss the proposed high school addition project.