After a lengthy discussion, the Moose Lake School Board passed a motion, with a 5-1 vote, to enter into a contract with ICS Consulting to gather information about what is needed in a new school, determine the square footage, meet with the task force and Vote Yes Committee, organize the referendum campaign, and act as construction manager if the referendum is successful. The special meeting was held on Monday, November 5.
Gary Benson, Pat Overom and Scott Johnson formed ICS Consulting several years ago, and had been hired by the Moose Lake School Board to coordinate restoration after the June flood for a cost of $15,000.
However, ICS Consulting had presented an additional charge of $500 to the school board after additional expenses were incurred for restoration of a flooded tunnel under the elementary wing that carried the heating pipes and other utilities.
Superintendent Robert Indihar explained that ICS Consulting would absolve the bill for $500 if the school board approved the current contract.
Benson, who had been employed by Kraus-Anderson Construction at the time, had been the Moose Lake School District’s construction manager for past building bond referendums. All of the referendums had failed in the vote by school district property owners.
Board members Julie Peterson and Kristi Skelton-Weisert pointed out that there were two parts to the contract, an $18,000 charge for the preliminary portion of gathering information about the needs in a new building and bringing the information to the task force.
If the task force, made up of members from the school district, approves the preliminary plans, ICS Consulting will work with the Vote Yes Committee to coordinate a campaign for a building bond referendum, estimated at $30 million.
As construction managers, a lump sum of $750,000 would be charged by the consulting firm, which is approximately 2 ½ percent of the total project.
Peterson wanted more information from other school boards that had a construction manager and those that don’t before making a decision about the contract. And she wanted to see if the construction company that will be building the new school would have its own construction manager.
Skelton-Weisert suggested that the board agree to the first part of the contract for the preliminary portion with the $18,000 but not the second until it was determined that a construction manager was needed.
“These are two different issues,” she said. “We are talking about a lot of money.”
It was pointed out that, if the board approved the contract as written, both charges would be included in the building bonds, if approved by the voters. If the board approved part of the contract for the preliminary work, and then did not approve the second part later, the $18,000 charge would have to come out of the school district’s General Fund.
Board members Peter Steen, Jamie Jungers and Kris Lyons, members of the Building Committee, had met with Benson earlier and explained that this contract includes the plan for the building.
“Last time we had a project estimated at $25 million,” said Jungers. “We didn’t have a plan. This one gathers all of that information ahead of time and then it is brought to the task force.”
Skelton-Weisert said that if the board is unhappy with the consulting firm’s work, it would not have to approve the second part of the contract.
Steen said that the full contract would result in a seamless plan from beginning to end.
Superintendent Indihar, who had also attended the Building Committee meeting, explained that Benson had presented a timeline from gathering the information to a referendum election to be held in May. Any delays in approving the contract would delay the referendum until November next year.
With approval of the referendum in May, an architect would be hired to design the building and construction could begin in the spring of 2014. The building would be completed for the 2015-2016 school year.
“If the referendum passes in May, the construction manager would be on board to get bids,” said Steen.
“It’s good business to lock us into a contract tonight,” said Jungers.
“I don’t want to see this delayed,” said Superintendent Indihar. “If a decision is delayed another month it will go past the possible May election.”
Steen made the motion, and Jungers seconded it, to accept the contract as is.
The motion passed by a 5–1 vote. Peterson voted nay.
In other business, Superintendent Indihar reported that he had met with city officials and agreed with the general tenets and the price for the school district property that had been set aside for commercial development along Highway 73 on the south end of town. He added that the city would purchase the property and sell it to the developer with certain controls.
The city council would discuss the purchase and approve it at its next meeting, he said. Mayor Ted Shaw had said that the purchase could be completed by the holidays.
“The city was very reassuring that nothing will go up there that we don’t want up there,” he added.
It was said that Benson would be asked to attend the next meeting of the school board on November 19.