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Firm says Rib Lake school buildings need upgrades

Rib Lake school board working on 5-10 year plan for district school facilities, community session May 3

The Rib Lake school board is looking to the future and identifying projects that will need to be done to keep the existing facilities in good repair for years to come.

At the March 9 Rib Lake School Board meeting, architect David Vanden Avond and Education Market Manager Tricia Muellenbach of Excel Engineering gave an update on the facilities assessment and planning project. This is a part of the Board of Education’s goal to make a 5-10 year plan for updating Rib Lake School District’s facilities.

The team at Excel Engineering has completed their audit of all of the facilities in the Rib Lake School District, including the Elementary School, Middle School, High School, and the bus garage. These procedures included making a 360 degree walkthrough of all of the buildings, having a team of Excel Engineering employees come into the buildings and go through every room methodically, holding individual interviews with district employees, and many conversations with the Rib Lake Board of Education. The interviews and conversations held discussed the current use of all of the rooms in the buildings, how staff uses the facilities while teaching, the current needs of the building, and how people see the future of the Rib Lake School District.

This information was compiled and assessed to give each building a rating for their existing conditions based on specific things. The items being assessed specifically were code compliance, ADA compliance, safety and security, structural, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, the interior finishes, the ceilings, the flooring, the roof, the furniture, the exterior envelope, and civil aspects. A rating of “good” means that based on its current condition or age, it will need to be replaced or upgraded in 10+ years. A rating of “fair” indicates replacement or upgrades in 5-10 years, and a rating of “poor” indicates replacement or upgrades in the next 0-5 years.

Muellenbach repeated multiple times throughout the presentations that “anything in this is not because of upkeep. Your facilities are in great shape as being maintained and taken care of.” They indicated that it was simply the age of the facilities and the things in them that warranted the rankings.

The Rib Lake Elementary School (RLES) was rated in “fair” condition, with the plumbing and civil aspects of the building rated as “poor” and the flooring, ceiling, interior finishes, and HVAC systems as “good”.

The Rib Lake Middle School (RLMS) was rated in “poor” condition, with the safety and security, ADA policies, plumbing, flooring, ceilings, interior finishes, and furniture rated as “poor.” The HVAC system and the roof were rated in “good” condition.

The Rib Lake High School condition was rated as “poor,” with specific problem areas being safety and security, ADA compliance, electrical, plumbing, furniture, and civil. The HVAC system and the roof were rated in “good” condition.

Another part of this “Existing Conditions Assessment” is to estimate replacement costs. These estimated prices that the Excel Engineering team calculated include no upgrades - just replacing the things rated “poor” or “fair” with exactly the same items, just newer.

The total estimated cost if the school district decided to replace everything rated “poor” or “fair”, with no additional upgrades would be around 13.8 million dollars ($13,827,390).

Replacing only the items rated as poor would be around 11.4 million dollars ($11,410,840).

Excel Engineering also analyzed the educational space and capacity of the current school buildings to see how future growth will affect the school district, as well as to be data for the school district to see how the staff can better utilize the space available. All three schools had utilization rates between 50% and 70% and classroom size was over 100% for all schools based on the number of students in each class.

The next steps in this facility planning project will be gathering more information from the community and the school board about how they want the future of Rib Lake schools to look, pricing those options out, with potential to go to referendum in 2024.

Some options already in the works are a bigger and better fitness center, secure entrances for the RLMS and RLHS, a new track, a wood boiler for the RLES, a specific space for the all day 4K, a daycare, and improved band and choir areas.

Excel Engineering will be hosting community listening sessions on May 3, at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to further understand the needs and wants of the Rib Lake community in regards to the school’s future development.

Said Board of Education member Rollie Thums “We are here to look at everything. What’s best for the kids, what’s best for the community. The kids come first.”

In other business:

  The School Board approved a date and time change for their monthly meetings, not effective immediately. They will be switched to be held on the fourth Wednesday of every month.

  The Inclusive Playground project currently has a little over $40,000 pledged to it.

  The Board approved the purchase of two Promethean Boards at a Buy-One-Get-One price.

  Diana Harper stopped by during the citizen’s input part of the meeting to thank the teachers and praise the school district’s music education program.