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Dassel-Cokato School Board continues bond discussion
March 13, 2020

Jodie Murray
Correspondent

DASSEL-COKATO, MN – The Dassel-Cokato School Board continued discussion of bond questions during Monday’s meeting. The consensus from board members was that further discussions, with the possibility of another special session or workshop, should continue.

The school board heard from four representatives of focus groups during the Feb. 10 board meeting. The representatives posed two questions for the bond.

To recap, Question 1 was the longest list with $15.8 million in necessary funding. This included building an addition and remodeling of the Career and Technology Education (CTE) facility on the north side of the high school, increasing the size of the middle school industrial technology classroom, and remodeling the high school administration area for more security and efficiency.

Question 2 was solely for additional work on the fieldhouse, with an estimated cost of $5.1 million.

Board Member Irene Bender suggested that the board needed to have a concerted effort to have a plan in place. She further conveyed that it was a matter of being proactive.

It was suggested that having a facilities study, as was done in 2008, should be done again, but Superintendent Jeff Powers said another study may not prove to be a good idea. If they had done what the study had suggested in 2008, a lot of money would have been wasted. Powers said he watches enrollments, and continues to have good conversations with each principal. While some classes may be full one year, this could change dramatically the following year. As of yet, they are not in a position where they are bursting at the seams, Powers said.

Board Member Dave Sangren provided thoughts on waiting to see what the state provides for funding before the board makes any decisions.

As it stands, the board may not be ready for an approval before the due date mid-May. This would push getting the bond on the levy to February 2021.

The delay of the decision to approve either question on the bond could increase the cost from 5 to 7 percent; however, the board chose not to make a decision at Monday’s meeting due the absence of Board Member Kathy Grochow.

Summer projects report

Powers sought informal approval from the school board to start the bidding process on two large-scale summer projects: expansion of the high school parking lot, and the addition of a new road.

Powers explained that, although there is a list of approved contractor firms to do work, he was not comfortable with the amount of money being spent without getting a bid first.

The new high school lot will increase the amount of parking spaces from about 310, to 400. There will be two spaces dedicated for handicap parking, and four spaces for visitor parking.

Crosswalks to the middle school, high school and administration offices will also be added. The work will include the addition of LED lighting in this lot, new signs, and excavating. Asphalt will be ground up and could be repurposed to create a small parking lot near the quad.

The other big summer project is the addition of a road to the west of the quad, which will be dedicated to buses and staff. The road will have one entrance lane and two exit lanes: one for left turns and one for right turns. While the road is being built, staff will re-fence the quad.

School Board Chair Bill Aho noted that, at some point, they should consider installing restrooms near the track and quad. In looking at other local schools, he said, it’s his wish to be the best in the vicinity, if they are not already.

Although there was some discussion of moving the entrance for the football field to the north, there were thoughts of putting up small ticket booths and a concession stand, as well.

The funding for these projects, as previously budgeted, would be deducted from the long-term facilities maintenance (LTFM) budget. Estimated costs of these summer projects would be a total of $420,000, with $120,000 being for the parking lot.

“We are accomplishing tremendous things in a responsible manner,” Powers said.

The school board approved seeking bids for these two projects.

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