SCHOOL BOARD TABLES ACTION ON CAPITAL PROJECTS
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
In response to concerns shared by incoming board member Doug McCune about the preliminary plans for a new wrestling facility provided by CO-OP Architecture, the Freeman Public School Board agreed on Monday to table the discussion until more information can be obtained.
McCune’s concerns with the 4,458 square-foot addition, proposed to be built on the east side of the elementary school gym and estimated to cost $500,000, include the lack of full specifications and inspections from a licensed architect.
“I guess we don’t have that,” board president Kyle Weier said at the June 14 meeting. “I don’t understand it, but I had a conversation with Doug, and he deals with this.”
McCune, who is a partner with Puetz Corporation, a design/build firm out of Mitchell, will join the school board along with Emily Andersen, next month.
Board member Slade Ammann agreed that the district should make sure it has covered all its bases before agreeing to the project; he referenced a soil test that was not done prior to the completion of the bus lane that runs on the east side of the elementary school and playground that later caused problems with the concrete.
“I agree with Doug,” said Ammann. “I have some reservations with certain things not being included with the proposal. I don’t think we need to have another situation like we had with the driveway, where we overlooked something because it wasn’t in our wheel house and it cost us down the road. And we’re to blame because we didn’t cross our t’s and dot our i’s.
“I think it would be best to wait.”
Board members made it clear that they still supported doing the project, but that it needed to be done the right way. Ammann suggested the board consider seeking a second proposal from another architect.
“After talking to some people, I think there is another group that’s interested in doing it,” he said, noting that would at least give the board something to compare.
“We can still go with (CO-OP Architecture),” he said. “I’m just saying there are some pieces they need to include before we move forward with that. We need to make sure we have those on paper.”
Board member Cody Fransen cautioned that waiting on the project would likely mean an increase in cost of materials.
“The longer we wait the more expensive it’s going to get,” he said.
And Weier noted that wrestling coach Chris Sayler came to the board with the idea of building a wrestling room in early February.
“We have stretched it out already,” he acknowledged. “I want to do this but it needs to be done right.”
McCune and other board members have also taken issue with CO-OP Architecture’s 7% fee for the oversight of the project when McCune said industry standard is 6%. Outgoing Superintendent Kevin Kunz said in an email to the board that he asked the firm about lowering it from 7% to 6%.
“I spoke with Kyle Raph from CO-OP Architecture regarding the 7% proposed fee that their company plans to charge in assisting us with this project,” wrote Kunz, who was not at the June 4 meeting.. “According to him, they use a sliding scale to determine their fees. These fees are determined based upon the anticipated cost of the project. In our case it is anticipated that the project will be around $500,000, hence the 7% fee. If the project was anticipated to come in at a higher number, then the fee would be less. So, long story short, the fee is not negotiable.”
Given the questions that remain, outgoing board member Mark Miller suggested school officials get more information from McCune before taking the next step.
“Doug knows,” he said. “We could easily make a $50,000 mistake pretty quick.”
“It would be best to have him specify what we’re missing and what we need.”
The board also deferred making a decision on how or if to proceed with a youth ballfield complex that has been proposed on district property east of the school’s main parking lot. The city of Freeman earlier this year agreed to donate $150,000 toward the project and Mayor Michael Walter suggested the school district do the same, with a newly-formed booster club charged with raising funds for the rest.
The discussion at Monday’s meeting centered around the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s plan to sanction softball; athletic director Kristina Sage told the board that a steering committee has been established and that the sport could be sanctioned by the fall of 2022.
“With it being a school-sanctioned sport, we could obviously use it for school activities,” Ammann said. “Could we then lease it to city rec for the summer?”
But questions remained about who would maintain it and who would take ownership of the project. Board members agreed that, since they are having conversations with architects about the wrestling addition, perhaps a youth ballfield complex should be included in those discussions.
Ammann iterated his support for the district kicking in the $150,000 to keep the ball rolling, but no action was taken.
The board also formally approved the following contracts:
Joyce Hora as middle school/high school science teacher;
Matthew Brinkman as math/reading interventionist with elementary computers and assistant boys basketball coach;
Rylie Christensen as assistant volleyball coach;
Jenny Peters as head girls basketball coach;
Kendra Peterson as head volleyball coach;
Amy Sorensen as an assistant track coach.
To watch Monday’s meeting, go to the Freeman Public YouTube channel here. Minutes from the June 14 meeting will be published next week.