Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

If approved, new school could be ready in 2015


If a bond referendum passes next May in a special election, the new school could be ready for moving in before the start of the 2015-2016 school year, reported Gary Benson of ICS Consulting to the Moose Lake School Board on Monday, November 19.

ICS Consulting has been hired by the school board to coordinate and conduct the process in advance of a special election, and, if the voters approve the referendum, will continue to act as the construction manager. An architect will be hired later in the process.

Benson explained the steps: gather information about what is needed in a new school from the staff, present the information to the task force for discussion in January and bring a final recommendation to the board, send the plans to the state for review and comment, conduct a district information campaign, and then hold the election on May 21.

If the voters approve the referendum, the design phase will begin, and then a call for bids will be sent out for the project. Once a bid has been awarded, construction is expected to take 14 months and be completed June 2015.

Although Benson had presented two scenarios, for a May election or a November election, it was pointed out that the board had decided at the last meeting on a May election.

Benson agreed said that the timelines would be better for a campaign and for bidding with an election on May 21.

Thirty members from the community had been appointed to a task force and met previously to bring a recommendation to the board. It was said that those members will be contacted once again, and other interested community members could replace those that are not able to serve this time.

“We can complete the work that we started a year and a half ago,” said Benson.

Jennifer Piekarski from KDV Auditors presented the 2011-2012 school audit.

“You’re doing well despite how the state is messing with your funding and declining enrollment but you have to keep a healthy fund balance,” she told the board.

The audit showed that the Average Daily Membership decreased from 701.73 in 2011 to 676.14 in 2012 for all students. The ADM had been 727.40 in 2008.

The number of students coming into the school district under open enrollment has increased from 151.87 in 2008 to 167.17 in 2012.

The revenue from local property taxes had increased from $418,599 in 2008 to $576,856 in 2012. However, the revenue from state sources has decreased from $5,365,111 in 2008 to $5,154,798 in 2012.

Elementary Principal Kraig Koneitzko reported that the Average Daily Progress program has been replaced with the Continuous Improvement School Improvement Plan.

He added that the elementary school had fallen a bit short and will have to write a school improvement plan. The plan measures proficiency in the students’ growth and achievement.

A team received training, and Russ Davidson will be coming in to work with fifth and sixth grades in math.

High School Principal Billie Jo Steen reported that a TXT4Life grant enabled training for students in TXT4Life and QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Suicide Prevention.

In her report, Steen stated, “Our MLHS LIFE students were instrumental in working with the Carlton County Collaborative to secure this multi-million dollar grant for northeastern Minnesota. The Minnesota Crisis Line that handles the TXT4Life texts now gets more texts than phone calls every day, and has become the model for suicide prevention help lines in the country.”

Board Member Julie Peterson said that the program is working well. The school is getting calls from Colorado and California to learn more about the TXT4Life program.

“It is neat to see that, especially since it came from our kids,” she said.

A working meeting of the board was set for Monday, December 3, at 6 p.m.

The monthly meeting of the board was set for Monday, December 17, at 6 p.m., and a special meeting with Benson was set for Tuesday, December 18, at 6 p.m.


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