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Board OKs finishing Parkside work this year
District to save $100k by combining project
School Board 2

MONROE — School board members agreed to finish construction work initially planned over two summers at Parkside Elementary School after a short discussion at its meeting June 8. The move will save the district more than $100,000. 

Monroe business Stateline Paving & Sealcoating was hired to complete the work by Aug. 7 for $131,556, which is just over $100,000 less than what was originally budgeted for the project. 

The project was originally budgeted at $112,000 for concrete and sidewalk work and $120,000 for the driveway, totaling about $232,000 over the course of two years. 

The board considered doing the project together because of opportunity for the building to be empty since COVID-19 has adjusted summer school and students have been out since March. Business Administrator Ron Olson said bids came in significantly less to do the work together. 

Earlier bids in two phases included different equipment needed because of work already completed, higher labor costs and a contingency for any possible damages on work previously done. Olson said lower oil prices and some projects being delayed may have also contributed.  

Several bids were gathered for the projects and each one outside of curb and gutter came in lowest from Stateline Paving, with steel, weatherproofing and building installation at $20,386; excavation for $52,900; asphalt for $36,925; and curb and gutter for $21,345. Some work will be subcontracted out. 

According to Olson, keeping the entire project with a single contractor allows full responsibility to be assumed by one company for scheduling and project coordination. 

The project at Parkside will remove old elevated concrete next to the building that once had shrubs and air conditioning units. The metal on the front of the building will be extended to the sidewalk level. Old sidewalk, curb, gutter and drive will be removed and the sidewalk will be widened. Concrete next to the building under the existing soffit will be replaced with concrete that is closer to grade and pitched to relocate water from the building. New curb and gutter will be added, as well as a new drive. 

Board member Teresa Keehn said she was grateful for the quick bids from Building and Grounds Director Rich Zentner and that, along with cost savings, it was also a plus that the work would stay local. 

“I think this makes a lot of sense,” Keehn said.

Olson sees it as another benefit because it will allow savings to free up dollars in the 2022-23 school year for other projects. 

Board members approved the decision unanimously. Mary Berger and Dan Bartholf were absent. 

In other matters, the board:

●  Approved the hire of an additional health assistant position for the district due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the possibility of needed contact tracing. Five health assistants were employed throughout the district and two at MMS retired this year. Hiring this position would allow for one health assistant at each school building. Director of Pupil Services Joe Monroe said this will free up District Nurse Sam Kubly to provide support for the health and wellbeing of students and staff as well as allow her to be involved in decision making with administration if needed. The position will not be posted until August when the school will know better if students will return for classroom learning in the fall. Board member Cheryl McGuire voted against the hire, saying later in the meeting with “all of the uncertainty” she didn’t want to support a new hire. 

●  Heard results from an at-home learning survey completed by teachers and staff. Representatives from elementary, middle and high school levels reported results which asked similar questions and offered similar direction as the parent survey. Most teachers felt if they do go back to online learning, they will need to add more rigor, organization and direction for both parents and students. “We want to start to develop a curriculum where technology is just infused in what we do,” Jeriamy Jackson, Monroe High School associate principal said. 

● Heard from District Administrator Rick Waski that several possible plans for ways students will learn in the fall including full occupancy, reducing occupancy, at home learning or a blended plan are all being looked at. The school board will likely approve a plan at the end of July after details are shared, he said. He hoping to keep parents informed on what’s trending and what to expect. “Anything but regular school is a hardship on families,” Waski said. “Where we start probably won’t be where we finish.” Planning for school in the fall has been a “massive” undertaking, Waski said.

●  Decided to hold off on any school facilities discussion until October of this year. Prior to the pandemic, the School District of Monroe was considering a referendum question to appear on the November ballot, but a preliminary survey did not support the district’s goals. All board members agreed that running any sort of campaign or asking voters to approve a referendum right now wouldn’t be feasible due to the COVID-19 pandemic and hardships its caused on families and businesses.