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New Richmond School Board looks at reallocating demolition funds

New Richmond School Board

With the old school demolition quote coming in much lower than the $1.5 million the New Richmond School Board budgeted for the project, District Administrator Patrick Olson went to the staff at all of the district's buildings to ask about some of the one time needs that the district could tackle in order to best use those leftover funds.

"The district finds itself in a unique situation right now ... As we started the year off, we did budget $1.5 million for the old middle school demolition, and based on a variety of circumstances, we found ourselves in a very good situation as far as demolition prices go," Olson said.

"With those monies, we get aided on those funds, so it is in our best interest to spend those funds and they will be one time funds."

The $393,338 bid from Eckert Wrecking of Rhinelander was approved at the November school board meeting. After compiling a list of those items and what the estimated costs would be, Olson and his staff found that they could pay for most all the capital improvement plan and new technology needs with the roughly $995,000 that will be left over after paying for the demolition of the old school building.

The total estimated cost for the capital improvement plan and the technology updates is $992,377.

"What we are proposing for this option is that ... we purchase all needed equipment for each building for $220,000 and then pay for the high school (HVAC) installation labor," Olson said. "We are recommending this option, which will cost $329,478 for that section."

According to Olson, the company that installed and repaired the high school HVAC system was bought out by another company and that company will not be able to replace the parts on the current HVAC for much longer. That is forcing the district to replace their current HVAC for a new unit that will be easier to repair and more interchangeable no matter who owns the company.

The reason the capital improvement plan only pays for part of the replacement is that the HVAC company feels like they could complete part of their work by the June 30 deadline for the reallocated funds to be spent since their staffing is lower.

In addition to the capital improvement plan, Olson said the district is looking to meet the needs of the staff and students across the district with the reallocation funds. Those funds would go toward updating the district's internet filter, improving the middle school and high school wi-fi connections — allowing the district's wi-fi to work on a five to one ratio of devices per-person — and adding additional archiving for district documents to make sure that seven years worth of documents and emails can be saved for legal purposes.

In addition to those items, Olson proposed that the extra funds be used to get more computers in the hands of students in the form of traveling computer carts at all of the schools, as well as getting every elementary school teacher their own laptop in order to make them more flexible with what they can do in their classrooms.

The final part of the reallocation of funds Olson proposed to the school board included adding light to the high school track and soccer stadium to allow for night games and eventually to move the football games to the high school campus. Olson told the board that the district would be shifting its focus toward the high school field rather than the middle school facility.

The other facility upgrade Olson proposed was upgrading the audio technology in the high school auditorium.

Following his presentation of the proposed reallocation of funds, the board gave Olson the go-ahead to finalize the proposal and bring it back to the board in February for approval.

Other business

• Olson told the board that the old middle school demolition was on schedule and that the school was currently being demoed on the inside. After the interior demolition is completed, the company will then start the razing of the buildings that make up the old middle school complex. That process is scheduled to start Feb. 27 and continue until March 10. The project is estimated to be completed in 21 weeks, with the schedule to change depending on weather. The current schedule indicates the project will be completed — with top soil, mulch and seed — by May 12.

• The board approved a resolution authorizing taxable temporary borrowing in an amount not to exceed $1,000,000. The approved bid came from BOK Financial Securities, Inc.

• The board approved the continuing of the NR4Kids site application.

• The board approved the special education and regular education open enrollment capacity numbers.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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