December 27, 2012 | Volume 117, Issue No. 52

Board favors new pre-k-12 school

The Moose Lake School Board favored a new pre-kindergarten–12 school building on its property along County Road 10 when options were presented by two representatives of ICS Consulting at a special meeting on Tuesday, December 18.

Gary Benson and Pat Overom of ICS provided information to the board about the various options.

The cost estimates for a school for grades 7–12 without an auditorium was $20,171,000, and with an auditorium at $23,840,000.

For a building for an entire new school, pre-kindergarten through 12, the cost estimate was $31,530,000.

The board also asked for cost estimates to build a new high school in the current location. Those cost estimates were not available at the meeting. However, the board did not favor building on the current site. The Minnesota Department of Education would allow construction on the current site, even though it doesn’t meet current standards for property for the number of students.

Superintendent Robert Indihar pointed out that it would cost an additional $250,000 per year if there was a split campus, with the elementary and high school in separate locations.

“We would have to split the services of a nurse, a DCD teacher and a music teacher,” he said.

It was discovered, in reviewing the numbers, that the state does provide equity aid. A higher amount of aid would be available for a costlier building project.

“For example,” said Supt. Indihar in a telephone interview, “if we have a $20 million project, the state would kick in $2 million. If we have a $30 million project, the state may kick in $6 million in equity aid. It’s a complicated formula; those figures are just examples. It was a total surprise to find out that equity aid was available.”

He added that the board was leaning heavily toward a complete new school for $32-33 million on the property along County Road 10 on the south end of the city.

The board also discussed replacing the bus garage, removing the high school portion of the current building so it doesn’t become an eyesore if a new school is approved and built, and adding rooms in the new school for services such as child care.

Supt. Indihar pointed out that the climate for the sale of bonds and construction is very favorable at this time.

“The price for bonds is significantly less than six years ago,” he said. “Along with low interest rates, construction prices are reasonable.

“We feel that a pre-kindergarten–12 is the way to go, and that this project will be cost effective.”

The board will continue to review the options. Another meeting with representatives of ICS Consulting will be held January 8 at 6 p.m. in the board room.

Then the board will turn the proposal over to the task force, made up of representatives of the community, for further review and to bring back a recommendation. The first task force meeting was set for January 10 at 7 p.m.

After the task force brings back a recommendation to the board and the board acts on the recommendation, the information will be passed to the Vote “Yes” committee.

The information will be presented to the public through various media sources and in community meetings before the proposal will be presented to the voters in a bond referendum election in May 2013.

If the bond referendum is approved by the voters, the new school could be constructed and ready for the 2015-2016 school year.

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