Board selects OPN as district architect

School Board
Pete Temple
Express Associate Editor

     OPN Architects will be coming back to Monticello.

     The Monticello School Board on Monday unanimously approved OPN as the district’s engineer and architect firm during the board’s regular meeting Monday, Nov. 27.

     OPN, which also designed the Jones Regional Education Center in Monticello as well as additions and renovations Maquoketa Valley, Midland and other area school districts, will assist the district as it studies solutions and a possible bond issue vote regarding its school buildings.

     Four firms made presentations and were interviewed by the board at a Nov. 8 work session. The board indicated preference for two of them, OPN, which has offices in four cities including Cedar Rapids; and HSR Associates of La Crosse, Wis.

     During discussion at Monday’s meeting, two factors emerged that swayed the board toward its ultimate decision: the Eastern Iowa connection, and the fact OPN was willing to negotiate its price tag.

     At the Nov. 8 work session, HSR came in with a bid of $8,000, while OPN had set a price of $41,300.

     Superintendent Brian Jaeger had been asked to see if OPN’s price was negotiable, which it was; it reduced the cost of its services to $29,950.

     “I appreciate the good-faith effort,” board president Bud Johnson said.

     The local connection – many of OPN’s projects were in Eastern Iowa while HSR’s were mostly in Wisconsin – also resonated with board members.

     “The big thing in my mind, still, is that they’re local,” board member Dave Melchert said. “I still think there’ll be some question from people (if we pick HSR), that, ‘Why did we go out of state when we have somebody 30 miles down the road?’ ”

     “Local is important,” board member Craig Stadtmueller agreed. “And they are proven on our turf. I’m confident with both (firms), but I’m more confident with OPN.”

In other action, the board:

     • approved a resolution of participation in the Instructional Support Program Levy. The board approved participation on a one-year basis, and determined that the levy will come from a combination of property tax and income surtax, as it has in recent years.

     Prior to the meeting, a public hearing was held regarding the levy, but no public comments were offered.

     • approved the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) application for open enrollment out students and English Language Learner (ELL) students beyond five years, for a total of $67,456.38. Last year’s amount was $93,464.

     • approved, as part of the consent agenda, the resignations of Debra Reyhons as special education child specific associate at Shannon Elementary, Bobbi Bauers as special education child specific associate at the high school, and Phil Gilkerson as middle school football coach.

     • traveled to Delhi to attend a legislative forum at Maquoketa Valley High School, where board members and superintendents from the Monticello and Maquoketa Valley districts heard from and met with Iowa Sen. Dan Zumbach, Iowa Rep. Lee Hein, and Iowa Rep. Louie Zumbach.

     Topics that were discussed include possible extension of the SAVE tax that is scheduled to be eliminated in 2029, opening up categorical funding to allow school districts more flexibility in spending, and more.

     A full story about the forum will appear next week.


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