School consultants gave the Park Rapids School Board facility assessment report on Nov. 19 and suggested ways the school district could fund improvements.

The report by project development specialist Jason Splett and principal Dave Bergeron of ICS Consultants highlighted the schools’ top priorities for long-term facility maintenance (LTFM) during the next 10 years.

Regarding the Frank White building – which houses the district office, early childhood programs, English Language Learners, Community Education and the Alternative Living Center – Splett noted that:

  • The building’s push-to-talk entry system is an improvement in security, but ideally the main office would be immediately adjacent to the main entrance to ensure that visitors check in with the office before accessing the rest of the building.

  • The playground’s pea rock surface does not give Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant access to play equipment and should be replaced with a material that provides more protection when children fall down.

  • The ballasted roofs are approaching the end of their life expectancy.

  • Many areas of carpeting, installed in 2001, are showing wear and age.

  • The public address system is due for an update and does not cover all of the building.

  • The rooftop air-handling units are approaching their use-by date and do not serve some areas, such as the classroom and gym areas.

  • The parking lots will need some repair within the next couple years.

Splett identified the following priorities for high school maintenance:

  • The restrooms lack ADA-compliant accessibility features and need updating.

  • The secure vestibule at the main entrance improves school safety, but having the office closer to the entrance would be even better.

  • Exterior metal doors are showing rust and deterioration.

  • The carpeting has outlived its life expectancy and should be replaced in strategic phases.

  • The sheet vinyl flooring in the commons is discoloring and showing wear. Replacement with a more durable, low-maintenance flooring is recommended.

  • Some of the auditorium’s original components, including seating, flooring, curtains, sound system and lighting, are due for replacement.

  • Adding air conditioning to currently unserved areas of the school would improve air quality and comfort.

  • Parts are no longer available for the school’s pool filtration system.

  • Installing a summer boiler would increase the energy efficiency of heating the pool year-round.

  • Parts of the roof are approaching life expectancy and should be replaced between 2022 and 2028.

  • The north and west parking lots are showing signs of pavement deterioration.

  • Exterior parking lot lights should be replaced with LED.

  • Parts of the football field irrigation system have failed and need to be replaced. An irrigation system could also be added to the practice field.

  • The tennis courts on Helten Ave. have deteriorated to the point where they should be replaced.

Regarding Century School, Splett noted:

  • The secure vestibules opposite the elementary office are a good feature, but the distance from the entrance to the middle school office is a long way for visitors to walk without being signed in. Splett acknowledged, however, that classroom corridors are locked off from the main corridor area.

  • Exterior joint sealants, exterior metal doors and aluminum door thresholds and sweeps are showing deterioration.

  • A more durable, low-maintenance flooring is recommended to replace the sheet vinyl in the gym and commons.

  • The public address system has reached the end of its life and should be replaced.

  • Wood doors are beginning to delaminate and should be replaced, a pod at a time.

  • Higher efficiency boilers would do a better job of supplying hot water to the facility and dehumidifying the gymnasium.

  • The chiller plant, which provides cold water to the building, is approaching the end of its lifespan.

  • The district should plan to replace the school’s roofing between 2024 and 2026.

  • Parking lot pavement has been faithfully kept up with surface repairs, but a more in-depth repair may be needed to prevent structural failure.

  • The pea rock playground surfacing should be replaced with a more ADA-compliant material that provides more cushioning when children fall down.

  • The propane tank needs to be cleaned and repainted.

The consultants also presented a proposed budget for an LTFM revenue application to the Minnesota Department of Education with estimated expenditures for each of the next 10 years. Estimated expenditures for 2020 totaled more than $8 million. Other years during the coming decade, inflation-adjusted costs are expected to range from $435,000 to more than $5 million.

Bergeron said the next, “solutioning” phase of the planning process calls for a study of possible funding sources, including:

  • Performance contracting, which uses energy savings from installing more efficient electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems to pay for the improvements.

  • LTFM funding, which the school is already levying.

  • Health and Safety and Safe Schools funding.

  • Abatement levy (for parking lot replacement or repair) and lease levy authority (to increase educational space).

  • As a last resort, a bonding referendum.

Bergeron also showed the school board a debt schedule, suggesting that the district could service its current debt and take on new debt at about the same tax rate.

In general, he said, “districts will (maintain the same tax levy) until debt drops off, and then we look to do something more and try to keep that tax impact flat. So, you have the opportunity here to be able to put in place some of these other taxing, board-approved or bond referendum approach, and keep your tax impact flat, or keep it tax-neutral as you move forward.”

Bergeron described the current interest rates as a great opportunity for school districts to take advantage of.

Splett said he and architect Dan Miller will begin working with a facility committee after Thanksgiving to start fleshing out the district’s options for facility improvements.

Superintendent Lance Bagstad reminded the board that information about the consultants’ work will be publicly available at PRoject309.org.