The St. Michael-Albertville school district hasn’t squandered any time in getting down to business after the Feb. 7 bond referendum’s passage. School board members spent a significant portion of last Tuesday evening’s meeting toward bond topics, and the district released a tentative timeline for their bond projects.
If all goes according to plan, the school district should have the bond money in hand on April 13. That is the same month they plan to begin several projects, including the Middle School East pool repairs, technology spending and replacing all district lighting with LED. Pool repairs are slated for completion in June 2017.
More work begins in June, when school lets out. That is when the school district plans to start work on the secure entrances at Albertville Primary, Middle School East and the high school, which they plan to complete in time for open houses in August. They will also spend the summer installing generators in five of the district’s buildings so they can take advantage of a rate savings program Xcel Energy offers called the Predetermined Demand Level Curtailment Program. The Community Education building will get a smaller, energy efficient boiler that they will use during milder months and will serve as a back-up for the current boiler. Community Ed. will also get air conditioning installed in the gym.
The bond’s largest projects will break ground this fall. In September, the district plans to break ground on the additions at the high school and Albertville Primary, both of which are slated for completion Aug. 2018. Construction of the all-purpose athletic facility, high school tennis courts, baseball fields and updates to the softball fields will also begin in September, with completion expected Aug. 1, 2018.
Lastly, work on the second sheet of ice is expected to begin in October, with completion slated for Oct. 2018, though Superintendent Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault said she hopes to tweak the schedule so that they can begin renting ice time in September.
Managing the bond projects
There will be a lot of balls in the air over the next 18 months or so as the various bond projects are completed, and the school board addressed that issue at Tuesday night’s meeting. They approved the hiring of a construction manager to coordinate and supervise the bond projects, which Foucault said was built into the cost of the bond.
In addition, the board approved temporarily switching high school principal Bob Driver’s role to a .5 principal and a .5 bond project liaison. For one year beginning this July, Driver will lead a Core Project Team composed of various school and community stakeholders. The district will also form sub-committees that will report back to Driver and the core team. Driver will work closely with the superintendent, architect and the construction manager as the bond project liaison. He will remain the head principal of the high school during this time, but the board approved the hiring of a .5 Director on Special Assignment for one school year to help with some of Driver’s normal duties like discipline and working with staff and parents.
Foucault said there is precedent for this action both within the district and in neighboring school districts. For example, when Big Woods and Fieldstone were being built, Foucault said the district used bond proceeds for the schools’ principals to facilitate the construction process. The district also hired a full-time person to coordinate STMA’s 2005 bond projects. Foucault said Buffalo and Monticello also hired a full-time staff member each for their recent bonds.
Tuesday evening the school board approved a resolution authorizing the sale of bonds, and representatives at Ehler’s Inc. will be back in front of the school board March 20 to present the bids, which the board will award at that time. The tentative bond closing date is April 13.
The board found out during Ehler’s pre-sale report that the bond issue amount has been downsized from $36.1 million to just over $35.7 million. Ehler’s municipal advisor, Shelby McQuay, said that market conditions anticipate that lenders will pay more for STMA’s bond than is needed by about $472,000. She also said that interest rates look to be shaping up almost exactly as estimated.