Ely’s construction cost overruns relate to school board | News, Sports, Work


Surviving the costs caused by inflation has impacted planned construction on Rugby’s Ely Elementary School campus, according to information presented to the Rugby Public School Board by Superintendent Mike McNeff on April 8th.

“Good that you all sat down,” Chairman of the Board, Dustin Hager, mocked as he presented the project update.

While presenting informative slides on a screen on the board, McNeff said: “Just to give you a picture (of rising costs), on September 22, they projected $ 8.6 million at the time and we knew we had $ 9.1 million (budgeted for the project).

McNeff said, for the September assessment, “At the time, we thought, ‘OK, we’re a little underfunded, even though that did not include special renovations of about half a million dollars, but we still thought we could do that job. over a two-year project. ‘ “

“In short. 18, we got an updated budget that went to $ 9.4 million, based on more forecasts. “Then, on April 6, they came back and said it would be $ 10.1 million.”

McNeff said the budgeted amount initially came from $ 7.87 million raised in a bond issue approved by voters on Dec. 1, plus $ 1.3 million in funding from the Primary and Secondary School Emergency Assistance Act, or ESSER.

“So you can do the calculations there. It’s about a million dollars discount,” said McNeff. “And who is to blame? It’s the market. ”

“We planned to increase costs, but the bids turned out to be higher than the increased costs. said McNeff.

Board members discussed ways to cut the county budget in other areas to make more funding available for the project. The cuts included staffing and extracurricular activities.

Other ideas included reducing the project itself in ways such as replacing gravel in the parking lot.

“You can remove the gym update or the regular ones,” said McNeff. “I do not know if we want to do that. I do not think it’s a good idea. “These things are very critical of the project.”

“But you have to cut a million dollars – even more, 1.5 million dollars.” McNeff said, adding that many parts of the project were needed and approved by voters in the school district on Dec. 1.

“So we are meeting with Consolidated Construction to think a little more. Yesterday we met with the architect. “They have a list of things we can delay.” said McNeff.

The board also considered ways to seek more funding to fill the gap, including resources from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

Hager said state-funded funding could be complicated by the absorption of the former Wolford School District in 2019, which gave Rugby County a temporary financial boost and threw it out of a funding formula the state used to quantify of money sent to the district.

Member Nick Schmaltz asked if the school board could hold a special meeting to discuss ways to cut the construction budget. The board agreed, but did not set a date for a separate meeting.

District business manager Dawn Hauck reported the total district fund balance was $ 270,000. Hauck noted some of the funds “It is the ESSER money, which will be transferred to the building fund. There are $ 389,000 that have not yet been transferred. Hauck said, adding that some of the money from the general fund would be paid for the architectural fees for the project.

Hauck said the district was waiting for a legal consultation to ensure compliance with the regulations governing transfers to make sure they comply with ESSER and other requirements. Hauck said after legal consultation and transfer, “Then, you will have more accurate numbers of what is in the general fund.”

Hauck noted that the county special reserve fund, sinking fund and activity fund were “Following well” AND “normal.” She added that the district hot lunch fund had a larger balance than in most years because of federal aid to COVID that provided all the free school lunches in the district.

Ely Elementary director Jason Gullickson told the board that elementary school students were busy with projects in the upper grades. Fifth graders were working “Passion projects”, or projects dedicated to the activities they wanted to do. Gulickson said the students presented their projects at a recently opened school. Sixth graders were also busy completing projects, which showcase the skills and learning of students developed in their time at Ely Elementary.

Gullickson noted that standardized tests would be given in language arts, math and science in April, depending on grade levels.

Rugby High School Principal Jared Blikre awarded the highlights of the state competitions where rugby high school and high school students received the top prizes. Blikre gave thanks to Carter Teigen High School student, whom he said “Achieved the highest prize in the individual competition of the state Math Counts competition in Bismarck.”

Blikre also congratulated the students participating in the Future America Business Leaders (FBLA) competitions, speech and music programs for their success.

Blikre said groups of students would take part in speech and vocal music competitions. Seniors at Rugby High will present major projects at the school on April 19th.

In another business, Leah Johnson, an English teacher at Rugby High, introduced an ongoing curriculum to allow students on non-traditional school tracks to receive an education. The plan included standards that students had to meet as they progressed in each class. Johnson said the plan resulted from recommendations from the North Dakota Department of Instruction after the North Dakota state legislature voted to reach more students.

Johnson noted that the plan left many gaps for local districts to fill.

“The problem with this, going forward, is that there is no real direction from the DPI on how to do this.” said Johnson.

The board also voted to designate Rugby High School as the polling station for the June 7th school board election. Board Chairman Dustin Hager said one candidate, Chad Ducscher, had applied to run.

The board also reviewed and approved a report on the district’s careers and technical programs and the students whose needs they met. McNeff said the district released the report in accordance with requirements for Carl D. Perkins’s federal school funding program.

The board also considered a school bus service contract with Hartley’s Bus Sales Rugby. McNeff said the contract reflected inflationary pressure, which included an additional $ 15,000 in fuel added to the current school year. The board voted to approve the contract.

McNeff told the board that the district had heard concerns expressed by parents working as school staff who had difficulty finding daycare for their children. After the advertisement for a kindergarten principal, McNeff said the district rejected an idea to open a kindergarten center in the school district for staff to use.

“Based on the applications, we did not feel like we wanted to fill the position at that point.” added McNeff.

McNeff said he had been in talks with CEOs of the American Heart Center Erik Christenson and Jeff Duchscher of Rugby Manufacturing to discuss “A much bigger cooperation” among the top three employers in Rugby. McNeff suggested, meanwhile, that the hospital’s nursery, Kids Next Door, may have open spaces for children of RPSD teachers.

“It simply came to our notice then. “We still need some jobs with (staff children), especially one we just hired.” added McNeff.

Board members also discussed the Legendary Be School Board Training workshop they attended with the Carrington School Board. Two Carrington Board representatives, Kevin Wolsky and Chris Kuehn, attended the Rugby meeting on April 8.

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