The Barnum School Board voted, by 5-2, to approve that the superintendent could engage financial advisors Ehlers and the architectural firm of LHB for the proposed addition to the high school at the meeting of the board on Tuesday, October 15.
Architect Kevin Holm from LHB had presented the preliminary plans to the board before the meeting began.
An addition to the north of the high school would include a new gym, health classroom, fitness center and locker rooms. More seating and a new stage would be added to the auditorium, and new band and choir rooms would be added to the west side of the school. New classrooms would be added to the south end of the building.
In addition to the heavy remodeling of the auditorium, the science and computer labs, kitchen and restrooms would also receive heavy remodeling. Other areas of the school would receive light remodeling.
Hiring the firms for the project was not without dissent.
“I think that we should put this off for a period of time to give us time to talk to people,” said board member Michael Line.
Superintendent Dave Bottem and other board members explained that passage of the motion only meant that the superintendent could move forward with the plans.
“In the next few months, we will refine the products and the cost,” said Supt. Bottem. “We will constantly be getting a finer focus. They won’t do this until we have some skin in the game.”
Board member Paul Coughlin compared it to building a house.
“I need to collect costs and facts,” he said. “Then I need to make the decision to build the house.”
Board Chair Pat Poirier added that the board would not be voting to go ahead with a referendum until May. If the referendum were approved, an election would be held on August 12, 2014.
“We are going to do a building project,” said Supt. Bottem. “All of the architects in the firm will work on this. This just means that the board is committed to moving forward with some project. That could be as simple as putting a new boiler in at the elementary school.”
Line and board member Donnie Juntunen voted nay on the motion.
Elementary Principal Tom Cawcutt had high praise for the students that participated in the Global Day of Play, where nearly 200 students created arcade games out of cardboard.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “The kids truly knocked it out of the park. They used creativity, science, technology and engineering but not digital. It was fantastic!”
The Global Day of Play was the first of a planned annual event, and part of Caine’s Challenge. Caine Monroy is a student in California who had created the first arcade games made out of cardboard. Now Caine’s Arcade has spread throughout the world.
Cawcutt said that the MCA scores showed a 10 percent improvement over last year. Eighty or eighty-five percent of the students did well above or average, while others need extra help.
“Compared to the kids throughout the nation, our kids performed very well,” he said.
The tests will be given again in the winter and the spring, he said.
The MMR (Multiple-Measurement Ratings) for Barnum Elementary Title I had been received. He said that there would be no celebration until the spring, when further scores will determine if there is improvement.
Community Education Director Kristy Wickstrom said that the Broadcast Club is up and running. Story ideas are needed.
The school is also in the process of securing the Minnesota After-School Accreditation Program. Barnum would be the first school outside of the Twin Cities area to receive accreditation, she added.
The next meeting of the Barnum School Board was set for Tuesday, November 19, at 6:30 p.m.
The auditor will present the audit report to the board during a Finance Committee meeting before the board meeting at 5:15 p.m.