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

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Board decides to not hire bus company


March 23, 2017

It was the consensus of the Moose Lake School Board at the monthly meeting of the board on Monday, March 20, to not hire 4.0 School Services to provide bus service for the school.

After the decision, board Chair Steve Blondo thanked the bus drivers for helping the board though the thought process.

Driver Mike Licari, spokesperson for the drivers, expressed the appreciation of the drivers for the board’s support.

The playgrounds were a major topic of discussion. Three members of the public spoke to the board about the importance of the playgrounds regarding safety, the number of students using the playground at a time, and that the playgrounds should be a priority over the athletic fields, as far as the investment of funds.

“Every kid is involved on the playground,” said Byron Kuster, who has grandchildren in elementary school. “Not every kid is involved in athletics. There isn’t enough money to do it all. Instead of using creative financing for the playground, use the funds to complete the playgrounds. Use creative financing for the athletic fields and add more to the fields over time.”

Elementary Principal Kraig Konietzko, sixth grade teacher Paul Olson and elementary phy-ed instructor Ann Haugen, who are members of the Playground Committee, spoke about the funds available and the type of equipment that could be purchased with the funds. They have been working with a consultant from Midwest Playscapes, said Konietzko.

The committee recommended two versions of two playgrounds. The top priority was for $75,000 in equipment for the pre-K through kindergarten playground, and $130,000 for equipment for the first-sixth grade playground.

The second version would scale down the cost of the equipment to $40,000 on the pre-K through kindergarten playground. The cost of the equipment would still be $130,000 for the first-sixth grade playground. The costs for site preparation and chain link fence were additions to the cost of the equipment.

There was discussion about the number of students on the playground at one time. Julie Duesler, with School Readiness and Mini Moose Lodge, said in the spring there could be as many as 400 children on the playground at one time. But the most children that would probably be on the playground was 150, it was said.

“The scaled down version of the playground will work,” said Duesler. “It’s no fun not to have many new things for the so-called 21st century school.”

There was discussion about taking the swing set and rocking equipment from the old playground, repainting it, and moving it to the new playground to save costs. Cost comparisons were needed, it was said.

Konietzko spoke about the urgency of a decision by the board.

“The installers said June is already full,” he added.

Duesler said the school would get a large discount off of last year’s prices if the playground equipment was ordered before June.

“Make a decision based on the needs of the kids and budget,” advised Superintendent Robert Indihar. “My personal opinion is that I would just as soon see one excellent playground versus two mediocre playgrounds.”

The topic will be discussed again at a special board meeting.

Indihar spoke about what furniture and equipment would be brought to the new school.

He said there would be no heat-producing equipment and appliances, unless they were for a special need, such as classroom projects. There will be no incandescent or halogen lighting. All furniture, carpets, fabrics and pillows have to be fire retardant rated.

“It is better and more efficient if I make the decisions,” he said.

Indihar said the school received $10,000 in an energy rebate from the Moose Lake Water and Light Commission for energy efficiency. The new school will feature energy saving equipment, including LED lighting.

Indihar also suggested not installing goal posts on the practice football field. That would save $13,000, he said.

Board member Kris Lyons recommended searching for used equipment on the Minnesota State High School League website.

Board member Jamie Jungers recommended football practice be held behind the school, rather than inside of the track. Site preparation would be needed, it was said.

Indihar spoke about the Transition Committee and the plans for moving to the new school on June 1, the last day of school for students.

“There will be a parade of buses of students, led by the police and fire trucks,” he said. “The cross country team will run in front of the parade and lead it to the new school. A flag that has flown over Iraq has been donated by Kris Wallman, and will be raised at the new school.

“The high school students will gather in the auditorium for their program while the elementary students tour the school. And then the elementary students will gather in the auditorium while the high school students tour the school.”

The grand opening of the new school for the public will be Thursday, August 31, from 4-7 p.m., said Indihar. Lyons added there will be a volleyball game and a football game that afternoon.

“The ribbon cutting will be at 4 p.m. and the band will play,” he said. “A more formal dedication ceremony will be held on December 2.”

Lyons announced she conducts tours of the new school every Friday at 3 p.m.

The students will be able to tour the new school on Wednesday, April 5, at 1 p.m.

In other business, the board agreed to hire Kara Burn as business manager, accepted a $75,000 grant for Early Childhood programs, approved increasing the number of days for two Early Childhood programs, and approved the Memo of Understanding with AFSCME Local #545 to include adding up to two substitute bus drivers to the extra trip rotation.

The special meeting of the board was set for Monday, April 10, from 5-7 p.m. Tentative dates for the Athletic Liaison meeting were set for 7 p.m. on either April 10 or April 24 at Moose Lake Community School. The next monthly meeting of the board was set for Monday, April 17, at 6 p.m.


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