Verndale board approves $550,609 expenditure

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Verndale's school board approved the expenditure of $550,609 Monday at their February meeting for a school bus garage and parking lot.

When the bus garage project was originally passed the board was looking at a ballpark figure of $350,000. Paul Davis Remodeling and Renovation, the project's general contractor, envisioned an agricultural structure to house the school's bus fleet "to keep the cost down," according to Project Manager Mike Lovelace.

Then the state of Minnesota got involved. The state would not allow an agricultural structure for safety reasons. Some groundwork was completed in the fall of 2016 but when cost overruns began to surface in December, the Verndale school board suspended the project to find some answers.

According to a project architects, one of the answers was that several agricultural buildings have collapsed under the weight of snow. Since ensuring the safety of employees and their buses is a factor in acquiring insurance coverage, the Verndale board's Building and Grounds Committee recommended a $450,000 garage, built to commercial, not agricultural, specifications.

"It's what the state expects," Verndale Superintendent Paul Brownlow said.

The extra $100,000 needed to building bus garage is only one of the additional expenses tied up in the final cost of the overall project.

To meet space requirements for a growing student population, the Verndale school district opened an addition on the west side of the main building in 2014. Although a parking lot was built along with the addition it was quickly found to be too small to handle the influx of parking for activities at the school's new gymnasium. With progress limited on the garage project due to the need for permits, the board asked Paul Davis to extend the parking lot. One capable of handling 45 vehicles was built in October. The new $100,000 parking lot on the west side of the building addition has been in use this winter but an extra layer of asphalt has yet to be put down.

Lovelace told the board Monday that he is hoping to see work resume on the bus garage project by April 1.

In personnel business, the board accepted the resignation of James Brewer as special education teacher, the retirement of Title 1 elementary teacher Karla Hinzmann, a leave request for assistant softball coach Katie Bolland and the hiring of Greg Johnson to fill Bolland's coaching position.

The board also approved a 2017-2018 calendar and seniority lists for certified staff, support staff and bus drivers.

Contracts were approved with the National Joint Powers Alliance for English Learning (EL) students in the district and the A+ Driving School to provide driver education.