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Asbestos abatement, color committee, part of elementary remodel work

Work continues behind the scenes to prepare the Wadena Deer Creek Elementary School for construction starting at the end of April.

The school board heard from Damien Williams of ICS Consulting regarding updates on the project at the monthly meeting Monday night.

Williams said contracts for upcoming work have been executed. School abatement is expected to start April 30. They hope to be able to turn off boilers by mid May, and construction would commence the day after the last day of school, June 1.

Westrum said the abatement starting during the school year will be completely contained away from students.

"So it is safe, there are multiple precautions," Westrum said.

Williams introduced Joe Vry, who will serve as site superintendent for the project.

Williams also noted change updates, which includes a renovation to a work room and classrooms 18 and 19; casework changes to the '91 addition and gym hallways; lockers in the '53 wing; flooring upgrades and window treatments. Possible additional bathroom stalls in bathrooms were also considered.

The additions brought on an additional $223,500. That amount would come from an extra $1.6 million the district has for such additions. The school board approved paying up to that amount for the additions. They also gave approval for change orders up to $50,000, without having special board meetings to approve. Any change orders over that amount would warrant a special meeting for board approval, they agreed. Board members requested that they be emailed about change orders so that they could at least be aware of them.

Westrum said that the change order resolution is in place to allow this project to move quickly considering the construction window is 66 days. Any delays could send the projects off schedule.

Of the beginning funds of $14,508,770, the school has spent just over $1.9 million so far, mostly on consulting costs.

Williams also gave an update on sitework to be done on the south side of the school, which includes the bus and parent drop off area. District Superintendent Lee Westrum said that the homes the school bought in that location are to be sold at the May 22 board meeting. Buyers will have until July 1 to remove the buildings.

Westrum noted that next week he will be meeting with a representative of the architects, and a color committee is in place to help choose colors for the remodeled school.

"So there is a lot going on behind the scenes," Westrum said.

In other action, the board:

• Approved next year's school calendar. March 21 and April 22 were designated as snow makeup days.

• Heard an update on the Rural MN CEP program from advisor Dylan Huhn. Huhn noted that WDC students are well prepared for the future and performed well in testing. He helped set up several college visits, job shadowing and worked individually with students to help them make plans for their futures. Westrum noted that he was pleased to have students exposed to the CEP program and plans to have him back next year. He works in the school two days a week.

• Approved the resignation/retirements of Kayla Hotakainen, elementary special education teacher and Sarah Ikola, paraprofessional.

• Approved the hire of Scott Woods for assistant golf coach.

• Approved lane changes for Brad Wollum, Marc Reynolds and Kendra Schultz.

• Heard the district enrollment fell to 995, down from 1,026 in Sept. 2017.

Michael Johnson

Johnson is a graduate of Verndale Public School. He earned his associate's degree from Central Lakes College with an emphasis in English and natural resources. He earned his bachelor's degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he graduated cum laude in 2008. While there, he double-majored in English and Print Journalism. He's reported for The Advocate, student newspaper of MSUM; The Barnesville Record Review in Barnesville, Minn.; Clay County Historical Society in Moorhead, Minn.; Gillette News Record in Gillette Wyo.; Underwood News in Underwood, N.D.; and The Leader-News in Washburn, N.D. and the Brainerd Dispatch in Brainerd, Minn. Johnson has worked as a reporter for the Pioneer Journal and Perham Focus since Nov. 2017.

(218) 640-2312
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