Staples-Motley school board members took action Monday, to move forward with phase one of the school improvement plan to address some of the district’s most pressing facility needs. This action is the first step in fulfilling the board’s commitment to addressing the district facility needs, and the first major investment in facility modernization in 21 years.

After the failed $64.4 million referendum this spring, the Facilities Committee, School Board and district leaders re-evaluated all the district’s facility needs. After careful consideration, the phase one plan was developed to prioritize facilities projects that address the health, safety and other issues that are critical to providing an optimal learning environment.

“I am proud of the team’s hard work and dedication to develop this plan so our staff and students operate in facilities that are safe, healthy and support student learning,” said Superintendent Shane Tappe.

At the middle/high school, phase one upgrades the HVAC system to current code, converts the existing central heating plant from steam to hot water and adds a sprinkler system throughout the building. It also repairs the north wall of the 1935 portion of the building and removes asbestos flooring throughout the building.

At the Elementary School, phase one addresses HVAC, electrical and other infrastructure so it meets current building code. The plan converts the existing serving-only kitchen and gymnasium into a full-service kitchen and cafeteria to offer more nutritious meals. The plan also includes a wellness and activity addition at the elementary school — an upgrade to the originally planned elementary gymnasium addition — made possible through a partnership with Lakewood Health System.

The plan also repairs parking lots throughout the district, addresses ongoing maintenance within and outside of the buildings and improves lighting and hot water distribution. Updates on the phase one plan will be posted on isd2170.k12.mn.us as the district moves into the design phase .

Phase one is a $28 million plan that uses funding sources available to the board via state statute and does not require voter approval. Only half ($14 million) of the project funding will have a tax impact on local residents, directly funding some of the most urgent projects such as indoor air quality improvements and fire sprinkler system installation at the middle/high school, as well as parking lot repairs throughout the district.

“We were certainly disappointed that the referendum did not pass, as the School Board believed that financial plan provided the greatest value for taxpayers. By moving forward with these sources of funding, we had fewer options for minimizing tax impact, but we still sought to keep the tax impact no higher than was proposed in the referendum,” said Board Chair Bryan Winkels. “This was a difficult task, and I want to thank Supt. Shane Tappe and our advisers from ICS and Ehlers for helping us achieve this goal.”

Phase one is scheduled to break ground in the summer of 2022, with a forecasted completion by the end of 2024.

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