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DC School Board powers through to decide levy and bond options
June 1, 2018

By Nancy Dashwood
Staff Writer

DASSEL, COKATO, MN – As the Dassel-Cokato School Board meeting entered its third hour Monday evening, members were honing in on exactly what they needed to ask the community for in levy and bond funding in the upcoming November election.

The big message

Board members were in agreement about the extreme importance of communicating clearly with the community.

Part of achieving that goal included communicating that the bond proposal is entirely contingent upon the operating levy passing in November.

The requested operating levy (which must be passed in order for the bond proposal to pass) is $650 per pupil, or approximately $1.5 million.

Itemized bond proposal

Paul Youngquist of Architects Rego & Youngquist in St. Louis Park presented an in-depth list of estimated expenses for the bond proposal wish list.

(Youngquist’s planning and architecture firm designed the district’s Performing Arts Center years ago. Youngquist serves as principal-in-charge at the firm, and has 30 years of experience in the design and construction of education and institutional facilities.)

Youngquist, discussed the following bond proposal project estimates.

• Ag shops - $1,338,600;

• Ag classrooms - $1,089,200;

• Alternative Learning Center (ALC) - $1,949,900;

• Upgrades to existing shops - $1,613,800;

• middle school industrial technology addition - $823,700;

• High school entrance security improvements - $174,200;

• Middle school entrance security improvements - $12,900;

• Dassel Elementary School entrance security improvements - $12,900;

• Mezzanine upgrade above middle school west gym - $475,500;

• Greenhouse - $252,200;

• Repurpose areas of the high school - $558,300.

• Fire pump - $708,200;

• Middle school fire protection - $369,500;

• Swimming pool repair - $897,900;

• Multi-purpose building adapted for school use - $3,963,183;

• Exterior lockers at multi-purpose building - $221,257;

• High school media center remodel for learning - $248,500;

• Multi-purpose building mezzanine, footings only - $129,200;

• Rework high school parking lot and lighting - $1,052,500.

These estimated project costs equate to a bond proposal total of approximately $16 million.

Security details

Proposed security updates to district buildings are planned to provide one completely secure and controlled entrance at each building. The main goal is to move entrances closer to the schools’ office spaces.

Theoretically, visitors would be stopped at locked vestibule doors where they could ring an alert bell for access, be seen via camera by staff, and be routed into the building only via the school’s office.

Multi-purpose building particulars

The board debated about the importance of adding a mezzanine to the structure at a cost of $1,074,000. They decided to drop that option, and instead ask for funding to install mezzanine footings only, at an estimated cost of $129,200.

The board also selected the addition of exterior locker rooms for the multi-purpose facility, which would allow for more interior usable space. The board agreed that small changing areas for adults (referees, etc.) should be included in the locker rooms.

Fire prevention expenses

Youngquist noted the proposed addition of square footage in the middle and high schools made an increased size fire pump legally necessary to ensure the entire facility could be within the range of the sprinkler system.

The pool

Superintendent Jeff Powers indicated a recent pool inspection showed the filtration system is up-to-date. He said requested pool funding would be used more for updating the facility than for mechanical issues.

Repurpose areas of the high school

This proposed bond expenditure would primarily go to pay for cabinetry and countertops, as well as new appliances for the Family and Consumer Science area of the high school.

Other funds would turn areas of the high school and ALC into more study-friendly areas featuring high-top tables and stools, group study areas, and private group study rooms.

What about long-term facilities funds?

The district’s long-term facility funding has been divided into a 10-year plan, which prioritizes district projects that may use the funding. Topping the list of projects to be paid for with long-term facilities funding include the upgrade of the middle school/high school HVAC system, and the updating of student restrooms.

How to best inform the public

Board Member Andy Engh suggested that Powers and district business manager Tina Palmer come up with one-page summaries detailing the board’s rationale for their requests for both levy and bond funding.

“The community is ready for us to tell them what we need,” Board Member Chuck Nelson commented.

Odds and ends

In other business, the board:

• presented the May Courtesy and Respect award to Grant Thinesen.

• approved school board member election procedures, which include stating the filing deadline, general election procedures, and procedures for filling the board seat currently held by Andy Engh.

• approved elementary teachers to earn local in-service credits throughout the summer months from media/digital learning specialists and certified Google trainers Doug Asquith and Mike Barton.

• learned that there had been no bidders for the tech house built by district construction students. Business manager Tina Palmer indicated that, at this time, anyone who came in with funding for the minimum required to purchase the house would get it.

• learned the district’s first propane-fueled bus used approximately $2,600 worth of fuel during the school year; and that the average gasoline-fueled bus averages $6,000 per year in fuel costs. Powers noted the district purchased propane in bulk, further enhancing savings. “It is a nice change, and a good move for the transportantion department,” Powers said.

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