District to take do-it-yourself approach to softball diamonds

School Board
By: 
Pete Temple
Express Associate Editor

One bid came in, at $64,862.57, to convert one of the youth baseball diamonds into a high school varsity/ junior varsity softball field. 

Never mind, the Monticello Community School District said. We’ll do it ourselves. 

Board president Bud Johnson – who has put in much of the work in upgrading youth diamonds all over Monticello the past several years, floated the idea during a special meeting of the Monticello School Board Wednesday, May 8. 

“As a taxpayer I would cringe, having you spend that kind of money to do a ball diamond,” Johnson said. 

The current varsity softball complex will be used for the 2019 season, but torn out after the season is over to make way for a road and parking area adjacent to the new middle school. 

The board had previously approved using the West Field for high school softball, and building a new youth diamond behind Shannon School to replace it. 

Johnson said he would recruit, work with and oversee a volunteer crew that would alter what is known as the “West Field,” the youth field at the southwest corner of the Monticello Athletic Complex. He also offered to build the new field behind Shannon. 

The work at West Field would involve scraping out grass to extend the infield to varsity softball size, extending the overall field and redoing the warning track, scraping Shakopee lime off the current softball fields and adding that, topped by new Shakopee lime, onto West Field. 

Johnson’s crew would only be responsible for work “inside the fence,” as he said, not the fencing or lighting outside the field. Irrigation is another matter that would be handled separately. 

Johnson said he wanted to do it to save the district money, and because he has experience at it. 

He also suggested that whatever money is saved by having a volunteer crew upgrade the diamond could be used to pave the parking lot between the Athletic Complex and the current softball fields. 

Superintendent Brian Jaeger and the other board members were open to the idea. A volunteer project such as this would not need board approval, Jaeger said, unless the cost exceeds $25,000. 

“I don’t have any doubts about Bud building ball diamonds,” board member Craig Stadtmueller said. 

The item started as possible approval for the $64,000 bid to upgrade West Field, but after Johnson’s proposal, the item died for lack of a motion. 

In a related move, the board did approve the bid of Musco Sports Lighting, Inc., to install four new, galvanized steel light poles, and four pre-cast concrete bases, at West Field, for $88,838.00.

 In other board business: 

• The board heard a report from high school vocal director Brett Kniess on a proposed Monticello High School band and choir trip to Orlando, Fla. in March 2020. 

The trip would be during spring break, and would include visits to Disney Parks and Universal Parks, along with workshops and performances. The trip would be guided by BrightSpark travel, and would cost approximately $1,118 per student, assuming 48 students go. 

This was not an action item at the meeting, but will be on the agenda for the Tuesday, May 28 board meeting. 

• Jaeger reported on information from the School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC). In addition to noting that school achievement has been improving, Jaeger noted that the committee will continue to focus on communication, specifically helping the public understand the Standards Referenced Reporting grading system, as well as the PowerSchool online source. 

• Relating to the new middle school, the board accepted a bid from Terracon of Dubuque for construction testing services, at a cost of $76,482. 

• The board also approved a distribution of term sheet to potential investors for sales tax revenue bonds. These are the last bonds the district has to sell, and the plan is to sell them before July 1. 

• The board approved an engagement letter with Dorsey Whitney for revenue bond sales. 

• The board approved the resignations of Zach Mixdorf as seventh-grade math teacher and grade 7-12 math curricular lead, and of sixth-grade English/language arts teacher Katie Andrews. 

• The board approved the appointments of Stacey Miller as seventh-grade math teacher, and Edelyn King as food service employee. 

• The board approved the transfer of Jamie Vroegh from seventh-grade language arts teacher to sixth-grade English/language arts teacher. 

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