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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Maintenance projects remain top priority for ISD 696

Keith Vandervort
Posted 7/10/19

ELY – The condition of the campus buildings at ISD 696 remains a continuing priority for the school board here, and Monday night they discussed a to-do list of several items to be completed in the …

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Maintenance projects remain top priority for ISD 696


ELY – The condition of the campus buildings at ISD 696 remains a continuing priority for the school board here, and Monday night they discussed a to-do list of several items to be completed in the 2019-2020 school year.

The long-term facilities maintenance plan is a “very flexible” account, said superintendent Kevin Abrahamson, but a plan must be submitted to the state in July for funding purposes. “There are a number of things coming up regarding our facilities that will likely impact subsequent years,” he said.

Abrahamson presented a list of items, totaling as much as $170,000, currently planned for completion in the next school year, including:

Window treatments (interior shades) for the new windows installed in the Washington building last year, $24,000.

Electrical upgrade for the Memorial building, estimated at $40,000.

Gym door replacement (cost and installation of six doors) in the Memorial building, $29,000.

Security cameras for the playground, and Washington and Industrial Arts interior areas, $26,000.

Interior plaster repair, $20,000.

Baseball field upgrade, $3,000 of an estimated $45,000 project that was funded though grants and donations.

Water heaters in the Washington building (two heaters and installation), $19,000.

Plumbing upgrades in the Memorial building, $9,000.

Abrahamson noted that the long-term facilities maintenance (LTFM) budget is well over $200,000, while some capital expenditure dollars are available as well. “Some of the items on the list may not qualify for LTFM, but we do have the capital account, so we are well within budget,” he said.

Abrahamson noted that a $100,000 project to complete the west-side window replacement on the Washington building was removed from the list for this year on the recommendation from Architectural Resources Inc., in anticipation of being part of a facilities project renovation funding plan.

Tuck-pointing the northwest corner of the Washington building was not on the list, either, since no bids have been received yet.

Looking ahead to the 2020-2021 school year, window treatments and flooring for four more classrooms ($45,000), Industrial Arts building tuck-pointing ($45,000), a new football field score board ($26,176), and the Memorial roof replacement ($500,000), were on the list.

“The new roof project is between $400,000 and $600,000, depending on how much insulation is needed,” Abrahamson said. “We can bond for that against our LTFM dollars, but it may be included in the facilities expansion bonding plan,” he noted.

Baseball field

Athletic Director Tom Coombe estimated that the renovations this year to the baseball field will likely cost as much as $45,000. “Just $3,000 will be coming from the district, however,” he said.

He described the work to be completed in the next month in time for the state Legion baseball tournament, scheduled for Aug. 2-4.

“The fencing on the backstop and along the first base and third base sides have been replaced with netting,” he said. “It provides for a much better view for spectators than chain link.”

The third base bleachers were removed this spring and replaced with a paved concession and family area. “The Ely Dairy Queen donated stools and tables to make that more of a family picnic area,” Coombe said. “We are thinking about installing an elevated deck in the future.”

He also said that the top couple rows on the first base bleachers will be replaced with a deck area for spectators to stand and watch the field action.

Many funding sources contributed to the improvements. As much as $15,000 was provided by the Ely Education Foundation. Another $15,000 grant is coming from St. Louis County, while the Ely Baseball Association donated $5,000. ISD 696 committed $3,000. Mesabi Bituminous provided blacktop and fencing, while Ely DQ kicked in $4,000 for the tables and stools.

“Conservatively, I estimate we will have 400 to 600 people coming to town for the Legion tourney,” Coombe said.

He also noted that the wheel chair access for fans has been greatly improved along the third base side of the field.

“This is a great deal for our school district,” said board chair Ray Marsnik. “We own this facility yet we paid just $3,000 for these upgrades. And this isn’t the first time. There is new lighting there and the new score board.”

Facilities upgrade project

With the transition to a new superintendent this summer, the school facility expansion and renovation project was put on the back burner, but planning still continues and discussion will resume at the board’s July 22 study session.

Abrahamson said ARI will review with board members the final plans for the secured entrance project to connect the Industrial Arts building with the Washington and Memorial buildings. Approval and submission of the plans is required to use a $500,000 state school safety grant for the project. “You have until 2022 to complete the project, so there is nothing saying you have to do something this summer or even next spring,” Abrahamson said. “But in order to let bids, you need the final plans

Representatives from the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation will also attend the study session, to talk about school funding sources for the renovation project, estimated to cost between $5 million and $12 million.

Abrahamson noted that campus utilities relocation will be required for the project to move forward. “There may be some funding dollars available through the IRRR to relocate those utilities,” he said.

The community survey regarding the facilities renovation project will also be discussed. Draft wording of the questions, to gauge the community’s support of the project, could be finalized, however, no date to distribute the survey has been determined.

Other business

In other business, the board:

Approved paying $3,481 in dues and $700 in policy services to the Minnesota School Boards Association for the 2019-2020 school year;

Agreed to hire Max Gantt for the full-time physical education position for the 2019-2020 school year;

Approved the bus maintenance diesel mechanic agreement for the 2019-2020 school year;

Approved an online payment agreement with JMC Inc. to allow parents the option of paying for activities and lunch fees with a credit card.


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