On Nov. 23, the Watertown-Mayer School Board met via video call to discuss a few ongoing items. The biggest item on the agenda was the bond referendum project update. This has been an ongoing project for the last couple months, and includes remodels in all the schools. At the meeting, the plan was to award approvals for bids.

Superintendent Darren Schuler and ICS Representative, Chris Rear, presented the item on the Bond Referendum project. The bid process was started in mid-November, with teachers and staff weighing in on decisions. ICS is a company assisting the board through the process of finalizing bids. There are few projects part of this bond referendum, which was approved in 2019. The stadium is one of the projects, as well as the high school parking lot. The rest of the bond is planned to go to various furniture and fixture updates at all three schools.

Rear presented on the recommendations as well as the budgets of the different bids. For the stadium, the company working with the school, NNG, has already approved the changes to the contract from the school’s legal board. At the time of the meeting, however, the changes weren’t fully approved by all parties at NNG, so acceptance of the bid was delayed until the next meeting in December.

As for the traffic study related to the new parking lot, MNDOT approved it in early November. Bolton and Menk collected data from November 16 to 19 in order to determine the scope of the project. They will be assessing the data for a while yet, with the hope of analysis completed by the December school board meeting, according to Rear.

Finally, as part of the furniture and fixtures progress, The Cuningham Group has gone over the design of the school as well as working IT to determine technology requirements with the help of ICS. They are also working with various vendors in order to determine pricing. The budgets were planned to be finalized at the end of November.

“I’m being told that numbers are looking very well,” said Rear. “The goal is to order furniture at the end of the 2021 school year.”

Board member Hunter Feldt asked if the traffic study took the circumstances into account, with the students doing distance learning by the time the study took place. According to Rear, MNDOT was already prepared to extrapolate data, since Watertown-Mayer isn’t the only district in the state with this concern.

There are a number of bids for each school’s projects. The middle and high school have four work scopes, which is just dividing up the types of project. The total of all the bids put together is about $5.25million, with a budget of $10million.

The first phase of the project tackles three things at once. Phase1A is looking to remodel the dining and service area of the middle and high school, as well as improving the kitchen. Phase 1B is to improve the high school media center. Phase 1C would improve the high school’s special education rooms, including sensory equipment.

Phase 2 focuses more on the other side of the building. The middle school media center will also see some improvements, as well as their special education rooms. The middle school gym also has some renovations planned. The high school career center and DCD are in this phase as well.

As for the elementary school, the contracts total up to just under $600,000, and according to Rear there’s wiggle room. The project is smaller, beginning in May.

All in all, these projects are planned for completion in August of next year, before the students come back.

After reviewing all of this information, the board reviewed the recommendation letters for each school. According to Rear, bids went extremely well, with several companies bidding per work scope and project. As such, the school district is spoiled for choice. It’s important to note that the athletic fields will be going to bid in February, so that project is not a part of this series of bids.

With the information in the recommendations discussed, the board made a motion to approve the middle school and high school projects outlined. Motion was approved unanimously.

The next step was to review the elementary letter of recommendation. After reviewing the information, the board made a motion to approve the bid package. Motion was approved unanimously.

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