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Engineers still mum on totaling high school

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The question of whether or not Wadena-Deer Creek High School will be fully or partially rebuilt is still unanswered.

Riverport Insurance executives promised Wadena-Deer Creek superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom she would have their report by July 7. Dahlstrom informed the District 2155 school board at Monday's meeting that she did not have the report and did not know when she would receive it.

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"There has not been an official statement," Dahlstrom said. "In discussions with the insurance and insurers that have been on site he doesn't know why necessarily so we do not have quotes, we do not have a total yet of the building."

Unofficially, the district's loss at the senior high is believed to be 80-85 percent.

Dahlstrom unveiled a two-phase plan in dealing with the high school question.

"Phase 1 is an outside assessment as to looking at the cost of looking at either a rebuild or a new structure," Dahlstrom said. "Five companies decided to give us proposals. Phase 2 would be hiring a construction manager to begin our construction project."

Dahlstrom reported a lot of progress has been made in removing property from the high school. Property is being stored in semi-trailers inside the perimeter fence that surrounds the senior high.

Transportation director Tim Wohlert reported that the school had 22 buses and that five were not in the storm. Seventeen buses were in the storm. Seven of those are repairable.

Wohlert is proposing to pare down the fleet to 18 large school busses and two 14-passenger buses.

"As we get into the school year we will be moving students from building to building for different reasons and those two buses would be valuable for that," Wohlert said.

Wohlert proposed to purchase or lease eight full-size school buses and to purchase two 14-passenger buses.

Wohlert also proposed trading in two older buses, a 1994 and a 1999. The vehicles are still driveable, according to Wohlert, but have seen plenty of use and have a limited resale value.

Randy Johnson of Hoglund Bus and Truck was on hand at Wohlert's request to answer questions and provide the board with his lease price. Johnson told the board that he has the buses the school needs on hand. All eight buses would be new models.

According to WDC business manager Jerry Anderson, a school bus costs $80,000. The district received a check for $287,000 to cover its losses in the June 17 tornado but roughly $140,000 of that amount be spent on repairing the WDC buses that are repairable.

Secondary principal Tyler Church showed board members a map of 17 M State-Wadena classrooms which WDC students in grades 9-12 will be using during the 2010-11 school year. Church indicated that seventh- and eighth-grade students could possibly be placed at Deer Creek where there are eight classrooms that can be used.

Elementary principal Louie Rutten reported that St. Ann's is set up for younger children and the plan is to have pre-school and early childhood classrooms there. The elementary school would handle kindergarten through sixth grade students.

Norm Gallant, who took over as activities director from Brian Silbernick shortly before the June 17 storm, believes that fall sports can proceed but the board approved a bid for $122,000 to upgrade bleachers at the elementary school. The elementary gymnasium, which can seat 1,350, will host girls' volleyball this fall and girls' and boys' basketball games this winter. It will also host some wrestling.

Gallant reported that WDC has a contingency plan that will allow all Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Wadena-Deer Creek girls' hockey games to be held in Long Prairie. There is no contingency plan for the Wadena-Deer Creek boys' hockey team but other schools have offered their facilities. In regard to boys' hockey, Gallant said " a lot of it will be based on what the community center will do."

The dance line team will be moving to new quarters off campus for practices.

Gallant does not see spring sports being affected.

The board approved a bid process for demolition of the high school building which, according to Dahlstrom, stands between $750,000 and $1 million "at this point."

The board will hold its regular July meeting Monday in Memorial Auditorium. The meeting begins at 5 p.m.

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Brian Hansel
(218) 631-2561
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