Rib Lake board hires Findorff as construction manager for proposed project
Rib Lake voters will get plenty of opportunities for input before the board makes the final decision to send a referendum on the ballot next winter.
At the June 8 school board meeting, board members heard from Daren Sievers of School Perceptions a Slinger- based polling company that works with districts to determine what community priorities are and what voters may support. The board had previously approved working with the company to do a survey of school district voters.
Sievers explained that he worked with the Slinger School District for 27 years before working with the company. He noted that their goal is not to get referendums passed, but to put costs and options in front of the taxpayers and determine what they would be willing to support. He said they also are able to find out how the community is feeling about the school district as a whole.
He explained the process would including mailing an 8-page survey to every residence in the district. Residents would have the opportunity to complete and return the paper survey or would be given an encrypted link which would allow them to complete it online.
“We make it as individualized as possible,” Sievers said of the process, noting the questions asked on the Rib Lake survey will be different than those asked in other communities.
Sievers said it is especially important to get the community survey information out, he noted that about 75% of voters in the district are not parents or staff members. He said for a referendum to be successful it must get the support of that group.
He said the company has a long track record with a 94% accuracy in showing the support, or lack of it, for referendum projects over the past 20 years. He said they get the most accurate results when the survey is done within six months of the vote.
“We try to be very transparent and independent in our approach,” he said, explaining they would launch the survey in September which would have the company getting results in early October. He said they would typically have the survey open for a two to three week window. The board would have the results from the survey by the December meeting. Boards have until the third Monday in January to set the question on how it is to appear on the ballot.
In addition to hearing from School Perceptions, board members also got an update from architect David Vanden Avond and Education Market Manager Tricia Muellenbach of Excel Engineering about the community feedback sessions held in early May.
“The fact that we filled the room was impressive,” Muellenbach said. She noted that they have had sessions in other school district where no one has come. She said they had a total of 64 people fill out surveys from the session of those 37 were non-parents.
They said the most support among those present was for the options that included space for a daycare facility and connection of the middle and high school buildings with the construction of a new gym space and conversion of the existing high school gym into a performance space. That plan has an estimated price tag of between $20 and $25 million. It was also noted that when it came to relocating the football field, the support of those at the session was to keep it where it was at.
Board member Rollie Thums was concerned about the parking in the rear of the building and said he would like to see more of the greenspace of the field area kept and in its place the district look at some of the area where the skating rink is currently located in front of the building for development as parking lot.
The district is scheduled to take down and replace the boards for the skating rink which was open to the community in the past. It was noted that when it is redone, it will be much smaller and intended to meet the needs for the district classes.
Vanden Avond noted that contractors would still need space in the rear of the building for equipment and storage of materials during construction.
The action item for the potential project at last week’s meeting was to hire a construction manager. This is a firm that will work with the district through the referendum and eventually building process.
District administrator Travis Grubbs reported that he and Thums along with the engineers had spent the day interviewing candidates from four different firms. “It was a hard debate afterward,” Grubbs said, Thums said in his mind it came down to a choice between Findorff and Myron Construction. He said his recommendation was to go with Findorff, noting that he felt they would be good to work with and that the representatives he spoke with have ties to the Rib Lake community. He said he feels this gives them a little bit of an upper hand because the people will be taking pride in the school their own children attend.
“It was a tough decision for me,” Thums said. Grubbs said they were looking for someone who can budget the project, predict out what the construction trends will be and get the bids out and have quality subcontractors.
In the end, board members voted unanimously with board member Karah Grzanna absent.
In other business board members:
Received the district-wide school nurse report. The nurse administered medications to 61 students in the schools on a regular basis. She said they had 36 staff members and coaches certified in CPR with another class scheduled for August. The district has a 99.79% compliance rate for immunizations with students immunized or waivers filed. She also reported the district will be getting a free water bottle filling station from Delta Dental.
Accepted the reports for the Title I students, achievement gap reduction efforts and special education reports from the past school year. Elementary principal Jon Dallmann said they are working with the state to get assessments that more align with how students are instructed. He said he is hoping to not get an assessment that drives instruction.
Approved a $5,000 donation from Enerquip for the school playground project. The district has raised $214,000 in donations for the playground. Grubbs noted the equipment has been ordered and while they don’t have a delivery date yet, plans are to have it installed by the start of school.
Received word from Grubbs that while a recent federal budget deal involves states returning unspent COVID relief funds, this is at the state level and will not impact the district’s ESSER funds.
Discussed the planned change in meeting dates from the second Thursday to the fourth Wednesday of the month. At the recommendation from Grubbs, they will plan on the new date starting with the second meeting schedule for August.
Accepted the resignation of longtime teacher Barb Anderson and the coaching resignations of Paul Yanko and Dallman.
Approved a $1 million line of credit at a 4.79% interest rate. This is a routine action of the board, but by doing it now it will better align with the district’s July 1 to June 30 fiscal year. He said switching to the line of credit from previous short-term borrowing saved the district considerably and said that in the past year total interest was less than $500.
Held first reading on the update to the district’s strategic plan and changes to the handbook.
Approved the HVAC maintenance agreement with August Winters and Sons with no change in price from the prior year.
Approved renewing membership in the Wisconsin Association of School Board with a 5% increase from the past year making the dues for the district $3,294.
Approved renewing membership in the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance for $500.
Architect David Vanden Avond of Excel Engineering presented updated project plans for the renovation and expansion of the Rib Lake school buildings. The new plans incorporate suggestions from the community feedback sessions held in early May.
Brian Wilson/The Star News