Progress being made on Waconia school capital projects

Although another school year is only a few months away and a building referendum looms this fall, it’s still the middle of summer and the Waconia School Board made quick work of its regular meeting held July 14.

Todd Swanson, Director of Finance and Operations, gave an update on the slate of 2014-15 capital projects and said “district staff is very pleased with the progress that has been made to date.”

Projects that are expected to be substantially completed by the end of July include interior door lock replacements at Bayview and Southview; athletic field improvements; installation of sidewalk to physical education fields at Clearwater; sound and light upgrades in the high school auditorium; carpet replacement at the high school media center; and the remodeling of the Transitions classroom.

In terms of equipment, a replacement floor scrubber for Clearwater and a replacement Bobcat sweeper for the high school have been obtained or ordered.

Other projects that aren’t done but are expected to be completed by the start of school include an updated sound system in gym and dining area at Southview; an updated intercom system at Clearwater; the installation of a bottle water fountain in the main lobby of the high school; and a kindergarten classroom remodel at Bayview.

In regards to the solar panel energy project at the high school, Swanson noted that the installation of the solar panels on the high school roof will begin soon and is expected to be completed by mid-August.

In other matters:

• If you haven’t heard, the District 110 Foundation and the District 110 Alumni Association will be hosting an All Class Reunion and Distinguished Alumni Celebration the evening of Nickle Dickle Day on Sept. 13. The event will take place at the Lake Waconia Event Center starting at 5:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres, refreshments and social networking. To learn more, visit www.waconia.new.rschooltoday.com and click on the link.

• The meeting marked the first official board meeting for new Superintendent Pat Devine, who took a few moments during his report to introduce himself and share some personal background with the public.

Devine thanked the board for the opportunity to lead the district and touched on how excited he and his wife are to join the Waconia community. He said they are planning to sell their house in Litchfield and make the move to Waconia in the coming months. Since starting on July 1, Devine has been making the rounds with district staff members as well as other people in the community through the city, civic groups, and other means.

In terms of the board’s recently announced plans to seek a building referendum in the fall, Devine said he has heard mostly positive feedback from the community. While noting these types of things always have their doubters, Devine noted that many people have told him that they appreciate the creative approach being used to address the district’s facility needs and they like the “tax neutral” model that would fund the project.

Devine said “there’s a positive buzz out there” about the project and he hopes that energy continues as the referendum picks up steam in the coming months.

On a related note, Swanson announced that an in-depth look at the numbers has determined that the project could total $75 million and still remain tax neutral (meaning taxpayers would not see any increase — or decrease — on the school taxes they are currently paying related to facilities/fields for a period of 23 years).

The board has previously stated that it would like to keep the price of the project at $72 million or less but it did approve a state application regarding the project that carried a $76.5 million maximum cost, which reflected the cost to build an elementary school that could immediately accommodate 800 (instead of 600) students.

Officials noted the importance of keeping the total cost under the $75 million threshold to ensure the ability to fund the project through the tax neutral model.

Board chairman Brian Rothstein encouraged citizens with comments, questions, or concerns about the project to contact the board members, whose contact information is available on the district website.

• The Barn Quilts of Carver County project is coming to ISD #110. The Edible Classroom at Clearwater Middle School will soon feature a barn quilt that will be visible to people driving through the school parking lot.

The project is a community based artistic venture that provides an opportunity for volunteers of all ages throughout Carver County to experience quilting in an entirely new and creative way. The project currently showcases about two dozen larger than life replicas of quilt blocks on barns throughout Carver County.

• Several donations were acknowledged, including $6,000 from the Bayview PTO for the Activity Account, $2,970 from the Southview PTO for the Study Island Program, $200 from the Waconia Lions Club for the FCCLA National Convention, and assorted herb and vegetable plants by Shady Acres Farm for the Edible Classroom.

• The board held a work session on Monday, July 28 focusing on honors graduate determination, open enrollment, and facilities / the upcoming referendum.

The board’s next regular meeting will be held at Waconia City Hall at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 11.

 

Contact Todd Moen at todd.moen@ecm-inc.com

 

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