Middle school project closes in on bid phase

School Board
Pete Temple
Express Associate Editor

     The design phase for the middle school and its accompanying projects is nearly complete, and the Monticello Community School District is poised to put out bids for construction.

     “We are closing in on the end,” Superintendent Brian Jaeger said during a special meeting and work session of the Monticello School Board March 13.

     Jaeger said a design team met with OPN Architects for about four hours earlier that day, and the results were presented to the board during the meeting in slide show form by Katie Harms of OPN.

     Several significant dates for the project were announced. Construction documents will be released for bidding at the end of the business day Friday, March 29. A public hearing will be held April 8 at 6 p.m., a pre-bid conference will be held April 9, and the bid opening will be Monday, April 22 at 2 p.m.

     Work is scheduled to commence on the project May 6, with a goal of completion by July 17, 2020.

     In addition to the new middle school, four projects for the high school are part of the $15 million bond issue voters approved in September.

     May will mark the start not only of the middle school construction, but also work on the high school exterior, and a new storage facility to be attached to the back of the high school auditorium.

     Construction on the new high school entry, which will enclose part of the current entryway and include the district office and a large entry vestibule, is scheduled to begin June 15. That same day, work on rerouting the gas line to create the gas supply for the new building will start.

     The high school bleachers will be replaced in a project scheduled from July 15 through Aug. 9.

     Features of the new building discussed at the meeting included a 147-stall parking lot in front (east) of the new middle school, a wall panel system with translucent panels, and large aggregate tiles for the floors. Harms and Vicki Hyland of OPN brought in samples of materials for various aspects of the new building, for board members to look over.

     Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board approved a resolution providing for the award and issuance of $5,345,000 in general obligation school bonds, the second part of the $15 million bond issue. This will complete the bond portion of the financing for the middle school.

     Travis Squires of Piper Jaffray was on hand to discuss this, announcing that the winning bidder was Bernardi Securities, Inc. of Chicago, with a true interest rate of 2.857794 percent.

     Squires also presented the board with financing options using various percentages of the SAVE revenue the district can expect to receive over the life of the debt.

     “It’s a balancing act for the board,” Squires said.

In other board business:

     • The board heard a district budget presentation from business manager Marcy Gillmore.

     A key topic in the presentation was the property tax levy rate; the board will need to choose from several options that would fund the management fund.

     Board members Dave Melchert and Craig Stadtmueller liked the idea of a levy near the $14.00 mark, believing that would mean the district could keep the rate steady over several years rather than raising and lowering it.

     While $14.00 would be higher than the $12.28821 levied last fiscal year, it remains below the $15.00 approved by voters as part of the bond issue election.

     Board member Mandy Norton said it would be unwise to have to raise the rate in two years, when the effects of recently-released property assessments would also come into play.

     • The board heard a presentation on the 28E agreement between the district and the Jones Regional Education Center from JREC director Lisa Folken.

     This school year is the 10th involving JREC, and the current 28E agreement has been in place since the beginning.

     The new agreement is for six years, and includes some changes from the previous one. The most notable change is that whereas the nine participating school districts previously had to guarantee set numbers of students attending JREC each year, that requirement will no longer be in place.

     “Monticello has been very supportive over the years, and those numbers have never been an issue,” Folken said.

     The topic was part of the work session and thus there was no action, but Jaeger said it would be on the March 25 regular meeting agenda for possible approval.



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