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ISD 696 renovation project remains on track

Catie Clark
Posted 3/14/24

ELY- The Ely school district’s general contractor reported that construction costs are currently steady, which is welcome news as the district moves ahead on the next phase of their ongoing …

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ISD 696 renovation project remains on track


ELY- The Ely school district’s general contractor reported that construction costs are currently steady, which is welcome news as the district moves ahead on the next phase of their ongoing facilities improvement project. The steady pricing is in sharp contrast to the inflation that plagued projects during the COVID-19 crisis, which threw the district’s original cost estimates for the new addition, with its cafeteria, a gym, media center and offices, out the window.
The wild cost increases of the summer of 2021, when lumber alone tripled in price, now appear to be in the past. “Costs are currently stable,” said Karl Larsen of Widseth Smith Nolting and Associates at Monday’s school board meeting here. Larsen was there to present the third and final of the project’s bids for the board’s approval. The current year-long project will replace windows and renovate parts of the district’s school buildings.
Larsen presented the last major bid for the project, for $1.703 million for interior “Phase 2” renovations plus an “add alternate bid” of $51,000 for staff bathroom facilities. Three firms bid on the work, with the board accepting the low bid from Max Gray Construction.
Larsen reviewed the current status of the renovation project. “The original budget for construction was $3.474 million. The current bids for the construction are $3.569 million, which is a $100,000 over what was budgeted.” However, the $100,000 difference is under the budgeted contingency for the project of $178,491.
The previous bids were $131,494 for renovations to the chem lab and art room, and $1.684 million for “Phase 1” window replacement. Most of the work is scheduled for over the summer, though Superintendent Anne Oelke did note that “some of the window work may run into the fall.”
In other business, the school board:
• Discussed but took no action on a proposed policy for dismissing school on days when certain high school teams compete at state level contests. When school board member Tony Colarich questioned the need for such a policy, Athletic Director Tom Coombe noted that Ely had sent teams to the state championships (excluding Nordic skiing) “five times in the last 28 years.” School board chair Ray Marsnik concluded the short discussion, saying, “We will continue to study this as there is nothing pressing.”
• Approved the February financial report, including receipts of $2,734,680 and disbursements of $324,780.
• Accepted the retirement of Frank Ivancich from his Social Studies teaching position effective at the end of the 2023-24 school year.
• Approved the following coaching positions for the spring season as recommended by AD Coombe: Frank Ivancich, head baseball coach; Cory Lassi, head softball coach; Will Helms, head boys track coach; Rob Simonich, head boys/girls golf coach (co-op with NE Range); Megan Wognum, assistant softball coach; Max Gantt, assistant baseball coach; Darren Visser, assistant boys track coach; and Aaron Donais, junior high baseball coach. Donais’ position is paid for by Northeast Range School.
• Approved the following volunteer assistant coaching positions for the spring season as recommended by Coombe: Jim Wittrup, Derek Johnson, and Emmett Penke, volunteer assistant baseball coaches; Kelsey Ivancich and Jeff MacKenzie, volunteer assistant softball coaches; and Beth Ohlhauser, volunteer assistant track coach.
• Approved the second readings of the revised Minnesota School Boards Association Policies 209, code of ethics; 214, out-of-state travel by school board members; 404, employment background checks; and 535, service animals in schools. Approval of the revised policies will be on the agenda at the next school board meeting. When approved, the service animal policy • • Approved a $400 donation from the Ely PTO for dictionaries for the media center, and a $500 gift from Krista and John Haven for school security.
• Briefly discussed the draft of the Ely Memorial High School schedule for 2024-25 and resolved to discuss the schedule in greater detail at the upcoming school board study session on March 25.
• Heard a report from Superintendent and Elementary Principal Anne Oelke that the projected enrollment for Kindergarten for the 2024-25 school year is 34. The current Kindergarten enrollment is 19.