As conversations and plans surrounding the school’s response to COVID-19 became a theme of the regular school board meeting on March 16, board members also continued approving updates.

With the current HVAC system at the middle high school working improperly, the board approved an updated HVAC control system for $271,218 from Climate Makers. Superintendent Lee Westrum said the current system has become obsolete due to the phasing out of the parts. As an issue that has occurred for around two years, head custodian Curt Rentz explained how temperatures in rooms and areas throughout the school can read “unreliable” temperatures for portions of the day. With the communication errors, the system could fail, according to Rentz. The new system would match the one at the elementary school.

Board members Peter Hayes, Dan Lawson and Kent Schmidt questioned how long the new system will last since the current system was put in place only eight years ago. Rentz said the budgeting for this equipment is similar to technology in that equipment is always updating, however, the new HVAC control system will be the most recent edition. The HVAC system will be paid for through reserves from long-term facility maintenance funds. Though the cost could be paid over two years, school business manager Brian Jacobson recommends paying the cost at once to simplify future financial audits.

In other actions, the board approved:

  • The resignations/retirements of Lori Walz (elementary para) and the hiring of Steven Thomas (elementary para).

  • The paying of the districts’ bills totaling $348,719.93 as well as bond construction payments of $260,118.16. The acceptance of $2,556 in donations.

  • The school calendar for 2020-21 with a start date of Sept. 8 and a finishing date of June 3.

  • Two bargaining agreements with bus drivers and educational assistants for July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021. The bus driver bargaining agreement changed fair share fees, health and hospitalization insurance and sick leave buy back. The educational assistant bargaining agreement changed fair share fees, district paid benefits, sick leave buy back, assistant rates based on experience, longevity pay and a matching program.

  • A Sourcewell technology audit for $6,000 to map out and look for weaknesses in the technology network. The audit should be completed by the end of the school year, leaving the summer to discuss potential technology projects, according to Westrum.