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Board okays school projects

Posted 4/21/10 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

From a new sound system in the high school gymnasium to security cameras and fire alarms in the high school, to the demolition of the old courthouse building and the construction of a new bus barn, the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 school board at its April 12 meeting decided that now was the time to improve the school and to spend some of the federal stimulus funds that the district still has available.
According to Gary Bruins of the Building and Grounds Committee, the district has a fairly extensive list of projects that need to be done over the next year.
“The biggest of the projects that we are considering is the removal of the old courthouse building that is used for cold storage,” stated Bruins. “Once we decided to demolish that building, we are going to have to build something new to replace it.”
According to Bruins, the committee has reviewed plans for a phased construction of a facility that would serve as a new bus barn as well as provide some storage for the district.
“We have an estimated cost of $250,000 for the initial phase of a new bus barn,” stated Bruins.
Following a lengthy discussion regarding how many projects the district should undertake, the board gave its blessing for the committee to proceed on the replacement of the water shutoffs at the high school, the installation of new security cameras,  the replacement of the fire alarm system at the high school and the purchase of a new sound system in the high school gymnasium.
“We are not going away,” stated Kelly Norby, board president, in encouraging the board to consider other improvement projects. “We need to fix those things that need to be fixed before we have a major problem.”
Norby also encouraged the committee and the board to consider making roofing repairs at the high school and the elementary school, as well as completing the carpeting work needed.
“Why do we need security cameras more than we need to have the roofs fixed?” questioned Norby.
In a non-related issue, Norby informed the board that the district is still in the negotiations process with the Watford City Education Association (WCEA) on a new contract for the district’s teaching staff.
“The state has mandated that 70 percent of the new money has to go to salaries,” stated Norby. “The district offered the WCEA a base salary increase of $2,500 plus step increases during our negotiations. But the WCEA has countered that they would like to see a $4,000 base increase as well as an increase of $300 for insurance and step increases.”
In other business, the school board:
• Approved the 2010 school calendar with classes starting on Aug. 25 and graduation set for May 29.
• Approved the hiring of Julie Gronos as a full-time reading specialist.
• Approved hiring Calina Krogen as an elementary school teacher.
• Approved offering government as a summer school class.
• Was informed by Supt. Holen that enrollment numbers continue to increase at the elementary school and that if the trend continues, staffing could become an issue. Mr. Holen also informed the board that the district is considering holding school registration earlier this year because of the influx of new families into the area.
• Was informed by the Curriculum Committee that it was the committee’s recommendation not to proceed with requesting a co-op with Williston for high school tennis.
• Was informed by Supt. Holen that the district would keep its graduation requirements at 22 credits to stay in line with state requirements.
• Approved advertising for bids for the demolition of the courthouse and phase one construction of a new bus barn, as well as water shutoffs at the high school, a fire alarm system at the high school and a new sound system in the high school gymnasium.