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Bemidji School Board approves memorandum of understanding

The Bemidji School Board has approved a memorandum of understanding in which the Bemidji School District would buy more than 30 acres of land adjacent to Bemidji High School.

On Monday, the board voted 5-0 to approve the memorandum of understanding with Enbridge Energy, which plans to locate a temporary construction headquarters east of BHS as it works on the construction of two pipelines. Board member Ann Long Voelkner was absent from the vote.

Enbridge plans to operate its temporary construction headquarters on 38.17 acres on two parcels of land along U.S. Highway 2 for about 18 months.

After Enbridge completes work on the two pipelines - the Alberta Clipper Pipeline and the Southern Lights Pipeline - 31.36 acres of the land would be offered for sale to the Bemidji School District for $200,000 - approximately half the land's appraised value, said Chris Leinen, the district's director of business services.

He said the district would buy the land with capital outlay dollars, which are specifically reserved by the state for certain infrastructure purposes. He added that the district has the flexibility to pay for the land throughout the 24 months after Enbridge closes its temporary headquarters.

The proposed memorandum of understanding states that Enbridge would complete construction activities at the headquarters no later than Oct. 1, 2010, and thereafter close the headquarters and restore the property similar to the current condition of the property.

Meanwhile, Enbridge would retain the remaining 6.81 acres for pipeline placement, Leinen said. He said Enbridge plans to put in trees to separate that property from the 31.36 acres.

The memorandum of understanding includes several terms of agreement, including the following:

-- Enbridge would not use the headquarters as a long-term pipe storage area.

-- Enbridge could use a part of district land as needed to place a temporary service road. Tractor-trailers only would take right turns in and out of the service road, Leinen said.

-- In developing and operating the headquarters, Enbridge could connect, install and operate utilities as it deems advisable.

-- Enbridge could close the existing driveway to the tennis courts on the BHS campus. Access to the tennis courts would be from the BHS side, Leinen said.

-- Enbridge would build a barrier to prevent, to the extent reasonably possible, sound and light from impacting residences south of the headquarters.

-- Enbridge would establish fencing and security patrols to secure the headquarters.

-- Enbridge would install temporary portable traffic signals to control traffic to and from the headquarters.

-- Enbridge would maintain use of the district's sprinkler system on and beneath district land and fully restore it after use of the affected portions of district land.

-- Enbridge and the district would cooperate in establishing signage for the headquarters.

School calendar

Also Monday, the board voted unanimously to approve the first reading related to setting a school calendar for the 2009-10 school year.

There are three school calendar options proposed, and none was singled out by the board Monday. The board is scheduled to hold a second reading and consider adopting a school calendar March 16.

"We have two different types of calendars," said Superintendent Jim Hess, noting that one of the proposed calendars would have students starting school after Labor Day and the other two would have students starting before Labor Day.

He said the state Legislature will consider this session lifting a requirement that school start after Labor Day.

"We are currently waiting on the outcome of a bill to repeal the Labor Day school start provisions," Hess said in a memorandum to the board.

Under the district's first proposed calendar, students' first day would be Sept. 8 - after Labor Day - and their last day would be June 4. Under the second proposed calendar, students' first day would be Sept. 1 - before Labor Day - and last day would be June 3. Under the third proposed calendar, students' first day would be Aug. 31 - also before Labor Day - and last day would be June 3.

The first calendar would have winter break from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3, the second calendar would have winter break from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3 and the third calendar would have winter break from Dec. 21 to Jan. 3.