Fixes, upgrades needed to school infrastructure
North Branch Area Public Schools has aging infrastructure, and as time passes, the need for repairs and upgrades to district buildings, vehicles and property arises.
At its workshop meeting Thursday, the board addressed those needs and proposed the organization of a workgroup to study the capital needs of the district.
Randi Johnson, NBAPS director of personnel and finance, said there is about $40 million worth of capital needs that have to be attended to in the coming years, but making all of those fixes and upgrades in a short time frame would equate to “sticker shock” for residents within the school district’s boundaries.
How the district will pay for its capital expenditures is still being discussed.
“The funding streams don’t meet the needs,” Johnson said.
She said the district plans to address some of its most pressing facilities needs soon with money that was acquired when the district sold the former Main Street School site to Peterson’s Country Mill in April 2013.
Some of those upgrades include fixing a leaking chiller and repairing degrading bleachers at the high school and purchasing new vehicles, such as buses and a van, to replace ones that are old and high on miles.
Some of that money will also be used for technology replacements and enhancements and for purchasing startup equipment for the district’s new ProStart Culinary Program.
In February, the results of a comprehensive preliminary facilities assessment conducted by ATS&R Planners, Architects and Engineers was presented to the School Board. Following the report, the board had initial discussion about forming a study group to closely examine the findings and make a recommendation to the School Board on next steps.
At last week’s meeting, Henton suggested the group be composed of numerous stakeholders from the district and the community. She said she was not adverse to a group that numbered 30-50 members.
The district is looking for people to serve on the task force from the following groups:
• School Board.
• Early Childhood Advisory Council.
• Community Education Advisory Council.
• All bargaining units.
• Parent advisory groups such as P.I.E. affiliated with the Sunrise River School.
• Chamber of Commerce.
• Rotary, Lions and other community-based organizations.
• Youth activities groups.
• Alumni association.
• North Branch Area Education Foundation.
• Project Lead the Way Advisory Board.
• District staff.
Johnson said there is the possibility of the state Legislature allocating more money to districts for capital needs this year, but North Branch, and other districts, will have to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to possible funding from the state.
Those who are willing to serve on the group should submit their names to School Board Chairman Kirby Ekstrom, Superintendent Deb Henton or both.
All meetings of the task force will be open to the public, and its first meeting will be in September. The schedule of the group will be determined at that meeting.