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NR School Board approves pair of easement agreements

The New Richmond Board of Education met to discuss several topics at its Monday, Aug. 20 regular meeting, including a pair of agreements with Derrick Investments, the City of New Richmond and Bakken-Young Properties, LLC, as well as several personnel requests, the new coaching evaluation form and an update on the high school fire sprinkler system.

Agreements

The first easement agreement contained an amendment to an existing agreement with Derrick Investments regarding the "bow tie pond" on the west side of the high school property, next to the St. Croix County Services Center. Discussions about how to handle the pond have been ongoing for several months as the district and Derrick Investments tried to come up with the best plan to allow the pond to be enlarged.

"We've kind of outlined in our strategic planning that the area is most likely a parking lot in the near future. But as we have discussions about that, the rate of flow coming from the properties in those added additions across the road is why we need to look at expansion," said district administrator Patrick Olson. "If you look at the easement outline, what they could come in and do is that, instead of a bow tie, it would become a rectangle."

According to the agreement, Derrick would be responsible for digging out the pond, leveling off the slope, cleaning out the surrounding area to make it look more respectable and reseed the whole area at their expense. Pictures of the properties would also be added to the agreement to make everything more clear.

The board approved the amendment to the agreement unanimously.

The second agreement was with the City of New Richmond and Bakken-Young Properties, LLC. regarding their new funeral home property on South Knowles Avenue near the baseball/softball fields near Starr Elementary.

"The agreement would allow people to drive on the easement to get to the parking lot down by the baseball/softball field," Olson said. "The city would maintain the easement."

The board approved the agreement unanimously.

Sprinklers system

Olson provided an update on the high school fire sprinkler system. The district recently won a case against Total Fire regarding the system.

The district approved entering into litigation with the company to recover costs associated with repairs of the sprinkler system at its Sept. 18, 2017 school board meeting. According to Olson, the district observed corrosion in some of the sprinkler system piping at the high school building. The piping was installed in 2009-10. The district retained an engineering firm from Minneapolis to investigate the issue, who determined the initial installation of certain components of the system was deficient.

"We met with Total Fire following the hearing to try and work through some payment options since the judge did decide in our favor. However, we gave them roughly until today to contact us to talk about how we could recover those fees and we have not been contacted," Olson said. "We put together an affidavit, which was filed on 8/10, and talked about recovering attorney fees. We were hoping Total Fire would work with us and talk .... We will be trying to recover not only the $55,000 for the sprinkler system at the high school, but also the $19,000 in legal fees."

Olson said the district is happy with how far the repairs have come and all the major components that have already been taken care of. The high school auditorium sprinkler system repairs were completed this summer. The district is looking to finish the rest later this year or next summer.

Personnel

The school board approved three personnel requests, including the addition of an English language tutor/Spanish interpreter because two students with limited English language proficiency recently transferred into the district. Secondly, the board approved three changes to the school nutrition staff department, including: a driving position change, a middle school server/dishwasher position and a Starr Elementary position. Lastly, the board approved the addition of a special education para position at the middle school due to the recent influx of students with special education needs.

Coaching evaluation

The school board approved the district yearly coaching evaluation at the meeting after giving the board several weeks to look it over. The evaluation includes sections on coaching performance, team management, relationships, coaching strengths and areas of improvement. The final section includes a "recommend rehire" yes or no answer space. Both the coach and the evaluator would then sign off on the evaluation form.

Other business

• The school board approved an increase in substitute pay, increasing it for full/half days to $118 and $59 respectively.

• The board approved the $15,528 purchase of a laser engraver from Haldeman Homme Inc., for the middle school to provide more STEM programming.

• The board approved the preliminary budget ahead of its Monday, Sept. 17, annual meeting, which will be held in the high school auditorium starting at 6 p.m. with the board's regular meeting to follow.

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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