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WDC School Board: Nearly 40 contractors take interest in elementary remodel

Memorial Auditorium is part of improvement plans going on with the Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School this summer. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

About 37 contractors walked the halls of the Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School Feb. 20 looking to get an idea of the scope of the remodeling needed there.

Superintendent Lee Westrum shared the news with school board members Tuesday night at the regular board meeting and explained that contractors were guided through the school. A handful of other contractors that did not attend are also expected to bid the project. That was good news to Westrum who is hopeful for a competitive bidding process that might bring in a lower cost than expected for the project.

The bid opening is set to take place at 2 p.m. Feb. 28 at the high school, and board members are having a special meeting March 5 to hopefully award the bid to a contractor.

Once spring arrives work will begin in the boiler rooms where the work should not disrupt any student activity.

"Then they really have 62 days from June 1st until August 24th to be done," Westrum said. "That gives us that week after that to get moved back in ... it will be tight."

Contractors were asking if they could start earlier but Westrum said they cannot disrupt the education of the students. If there is work that can be done that won't interfere with the students education, they would allow it.

"I feel good about where we are at," Westrum said. "Next week will be telling when we get our bids. We're obviously hoping that they come in a little lower so we can get a few more things on our wish list. We've got a few things that we'd like to see included."

In other business, the board:

• Heard from school business manager Brian Jacobson, who provided a cash flow chart to board members showing the food service funds continuing to rise. "That's good news," Jacobson said. "We are projecting about a $62,000 increase." Part of that fund could go towards equipment with the lunch room remodeling. They can also use some of those funds to use in the school's greenhouse because food from the greenhouse is used in the school lunch, Westrum said. He expected some money to be used towards the purchase of a rototiller.

• Was acknowledged for School Board Appreciation Week. Casey Volkmann was recognized as a sub-section AAA award winner. Westrum noted the district is proud of her accomplishments.

• Recognized efforts of Rachael Johnson and Alyssa Morlock, who received ENVoY staff awards.

• Received notice of resignation from Kathy Connell, greenhouse coordinator and notice of retirement, again, from elementary teacher Junelle Jackson. The board accepted both. Westrum noted that Jackson's work was appreciated and that she would likely continue to sub for the district. Connell, he said, helped jumpstart the greenhouse program at the school and has set it up for a good future.

• Heard the current district enrollment for February was 1,000 students.

Michael Johnson

Johnson is a graduate of Verndale Public School. He earned his associate's degree from Central Lakes College with an emphasis in English and natural resources. He earned his bachelor's degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he graduated cum laude in 2008. While there, he double-majored in English and Print Journalism. He's reported for The Advocate, student newspaper of MSUM; The Barnesville Record Review in Barnesville, Minn.; Clay County Historical Society in Moorhead, Minn.; Gillette News Record in Gillette Wyo.; Underwood News in Underwood, N.D.; and The Leader-News in Washburn, N.D. and the Brainerd Dispatch in Brainerd, Minn. Johnson has worked as a reporter for the Pioneer Journal and Perham Focus since Nov. 2017.

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