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Menahga School to start expansion

Jon Kangas

Menahga School's building project is on schedule for construction to begin in September.

The school district will be adding classroom space and expanding the multi-purpose room where students eat lunch, expanding kitchen/storage space and adding bathrooms.

Superintendent Mary Klamm has said at previous meetings that steadily increasing enrollment has necessitated the project.

JP Structures project manager Justin Maaninga gave a building project update to the Menahga School Board at Monday's meeting.

The design process is on schedule for completion in August and will be followed by bidding and awarding the remaining contracts for construction.

He expects most of the exterior work will be finished before winter and interior work will continue in the winter. The project could be finished by April but contractors thought it could be disruptive to the school with classes still in session.

Final work should start after school is out and finish in July of 2013, Maaninga said.

In other business, the board:

n Had a brief discussion about an action taken against school board member Jon Kangas earlier this year for statements he made to JP Structures in regard to the building project.

In May, the board decided to formally censure Jon Kangas and said, "We formally state with a full, open and public disclosure...that in no part do statements, comments or editorial positions of board member Jon Kangas, solely represent the understanding, opinions, positions or will of our district, or the majority of the board of directors and or the administration. We will not absorb any liability, nor do we accept any legal complications or ramifications that may be taken against Mr. Kangas for opinions and comments to our educational community, business partners or any other professional relationship that we have! We apologize to anyone who feels that Mr. Kangas' statements have created offense, and unfortunately may interpret or believe, that his statements represent the balance of thought from this board or administration."

The motion, brought to the board by Ernest Huhta Jr., was approved unanimously.

Kangas said he thought the board rushed to judgment and wanted to have an open investigation to find out how the censure came to be so quickly. Huhta said he made calls to the Minnesota School Board Association and discussed ways the board could separate itself from Kangas.

Board member Brad Goehrig agreed and said the intention was to distance the board from Kangas.

n Heard the district received a 2012 School Finance Award from the Minnesota Department of Education in recognition of performance in financial management and timely submission of UFARS data and audited financial statement for FY 2011.

n Heard about some deficiencies in the school's playground equipment. A safety inspector determined that the wood play structure will need to be removed because of several hazards. Klamm was asked to look into the possibility of letting a church group or other entity take the equipment so it could be used somewhere else.

Klamm said she was unsure about the liability issue involved in giving away playground equipment that was deemed unsafe but she would check on it.

n Approved several bids for products and services for FY 2013, including gasoline to Lakes Area Cooperative, bread to Pan o Gold, milk to Dean's Foods, sanitation services to G&T Sanitation and snow removal to Menahga Concrete Products, Inc.

n Approved agreements with ALC Food Service with Freshwater Education District and Headstart with Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action Council.

n Approved Post Secondary Education Option agreements with U of M Crookston, Central Lakes College, Bemidji State University, Northwest Technical College and M State.

n Approved a workers' comp insurance renewal with Riverport Insurance Company for FY 2013 in the amount of $36,664.

n Accepted resignations from elementary teacher Mary Ann Whiteside and bus driver Alan Schermerhorn.

n Approved hiring bus driver Dave Trimble and part-time cook Peggy Hilukka.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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