The Moose Lake School Board unanimously chose Wold Architects and Engineers of St. Paul as the firm to design a new preK-12 school, at a special meeting of the board on Monday, March 4. Board member Peter Steen was absent from the meeting.
Three firms had brought five staff members each and made presentations to the board about the services that they offer at a meeting on Thursday, February 28. The three firms were ATS & R of Golden Valley, LHB Architects and Engineers of Duluth and Wold.
During the presentations, the staff laid out the various aspects of design, such as involving the staff and students in the development of the design process, using materials that require low maintenance and are energy efficient, interior design and adding elements of the old school, i.e. the Nemadji tile, to the new school. Site design, allowing for space for athletic fields and a possible arena, were addressed. Separating bus drop-off and pick-up areas from vehicle traffic was also mentioned, as were natural light and exposures to the light in all directions.
Board chair Kris Lyons said that she was impressed that the Wold staff said that the building would be designed with the people of the school and community in mind.
“It would be a custom design, they said,” Lyons pointed out. “The school in Moose Lake would be one of a kind.”
During the presentation, the Wold staff emphasized that they would listen to the staff, the students and the people in the community about what they wanted to see in a new building. The spaces in the building would be planned for students that will be going on to college, for those going on to a vocational school and for those who do not know what they will be doing in the future. Spaces would be designed for everyone, including the community. The quickly-changing world of technology needs would be addressed.
Board member Jamie Jungers said that he was listening to the presentations to hear how the firms would help pass the bond referendum and attend public meetings to give information to the voters before the referendum.
The Wold staff said that they have been successful in helping pass 40 referendums. And that they would stick with the school board and citizen committee if the referendum did not pass the first time to help get it passed at a later time.
Superintendent Robert Indihar said that he had talked to Gary Benson of ICS Consulting earlier that day, and Benson had said that ICS and the architectural firm would work hand in hand on the campaign before the referendum election.
Several board members said that they also liked ATS & R’s presentation. The firm designs and develops schools in 98 percent of its projects.
The board did not favor the presentation by LHB. One point that was brought up was that the staff did not seem to know much about Moose Lake, even though LHB has been the city’s engineering firm in the past.
After the special meeting was adjourned, the board met in a working meeting to discuss possible uses for the $100,000 in income from the sale of 24 acres of land to the developer.
Supt. Indihar said that the school district has not received the proceeds from the sale as of yet. The sale will be closed in mid-April and then the funds would be paid to the school district.
The funds would have to be used for capital expenditures.
Supt. Indihar listed three areas where the funds and funds from future land sales could be used: purchasing instead of leasing buses, technology, and textbooks and curriculum.
Supt. Indihar said that the bus leasing program is working well right now but the board may want to consider purchasing buses in the future if the leasing expenses rise too high.
Business Manager Linda Dahlman said that the school district is in the second year of a three-year contract for leasing the buses, and that the sale of the school’s previously-owned buses is still keeping the cost of the bus leasing down. Those costs will increase in the next three-year contract, but $50,000 has been put aside to cover those costs.
Supt. Indihar said that all of the computers in the various labs in the school need to be replaced. They are seven years old. The school had just received 30 new computers for the teachers that day. The cost of replacing the computers for the students would equal approximately $100,000, he added.
Replacing textbooks and curriculum would be costly if the formats were changed, said Supt. Indihar. There would also be expenses for staff development.
Board member Julie Peterson said that she wanted to spend the funds on new technology but suggested that the computers not be replaced all at once, and recommended stretching out the purchases. She suggested that the proposal would have to be discussed by the Technology Committee.
Dahlman said that the projectors for the Smart Board and Star Boards are needing to be replaced now that they are a few years old.
No decision was made.