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Bemidji School Board to review plans for summer capital projects

As the end of the school year nears, the Bemidji School District has several construction, repair and other projects planned for the summer.

The Bemidji School Board will receive an update about the capital projects Monday. The board will also consider increasing school lunch prices, among other agenda items.

The board will meet at 4 p.m. in the Bemidji High School Media Center. The meeting time is earlier than usual because of the Lumberjack Hall of Fame Banquet scheduled for 6 p.m. in the BHS Commons.

According to Chris Leinen, director of business services, the major projects the school district plans to complete this summer include the construction of a maintenance facility on the BHS campus.

The facility will replace the stone maintenance building currently used by the school district at the old BHS site. The Bemidji State University Foundation purchased the building from the school district last summer and is temporarily leasing it to the school district.

Construction on the new facility began in mid-April and is coming along nicely, Leinen said. He added that the facility is scheduled for a substantial completion date of July 15.

Leinen is budgeting $200,000 each from the 2007-08 and 2008-09 capital projects funds for the construction of the facility. He said the $1.2 million project will also be funded with $575,000 from the sale of the stone building and $250,000 in construction funds remaining from the construction of the new high school and Lincoln Elementary School.

Another major project this summer will be the expansion and rebuilding of the bus area and the addition of parking spaces at Horace May Elementary School, Leinen said.

Bids on the project were opened Friday. Leinen noted that breaking ground will occur shortly after school is out for the summer.

Leinen budgeted $250,000 from the 2007-08 capital projects fund and $50,000 from the 2008-09 capital projects fund for the project.

This summer, the school district also plans to improve the drain field system at Solway Elementary School.

According to Leinen, the school is built in a low-lying area and the school district is "trying to get ahead of the curve by improving the septic system." He said the first phase of the project will include putting a holding tank in the ground with a pump attached. The pump will send wastewater to the drain fields at regular intervals rather than all at once at peak demand times.

Leinen estimates first phase of the project will cost $40,000, which he has budgeted for in the 2007-08 capital projects fund.

J.W. Smith Elementary School will get a new garage to replace the loss of the stone building and to help service the outdoor track at the school. Also, the existing well and irrigation system will be reworked to service the school's Minnesota Biomes Project.

Leinen estimates the new garage and the well and irrigation system projects will cost $20,000 each. He has budgeted for these costs in the 2008-09 capital projects fund.

Other major projects planned for the summer include installing a card access system at Bemidji Middle School, retubing the boiler at BMS and improving roofs, parking lots and floor coverings throughout the school district.

School lunch prices

On Monday, the board will also consider increasing school lunch prices by 10 cents at the elementary, middle school and high school levels for the 2008-09 school year.

No increase in school breakfast prices is being proposed.

Last summer, the board increased breakfast and lunch prices for the 2007-08 school year by 15 cents at all levels.

Marlene Webb, food service coordinator, noted in a memo that she did not anticipate at this time last year returning to the board to request another increase in meal prices.

However, she said schools across Minnesota are requesting meal price increases because of the overall rising costs of food, related to supply and demand, as well as transportation.

Listening session

The board's monthly listening session will begin at 3:30 p.m. Monday in the BHS Commons. Board members Carol L. Johnson and Steven Johnson will be available to visit with the public.