Facility study and open enrollment top Menahga School Board agenda

The Menahga School Board directed Superintendent Kevin Wellen to request written proposals for a facility analysis from up to five architectural/engineering firms.

The Menahga School Board directed Superintendent Kevin Wellen to request written proposals for a facility analysis from up to five architectural/engineering firms.

The district is seeking professional help to address space shortages, improve bus traffic flow and tackle 10-year facility maintenance needs.

Wellen said LHB Corporation didn’t wish to return for another school board interview since there were no changes to their proposal and they had already made two to three trips with no board decision.

The board had delayed acting on proposals during their search for a new superintendent.

Board member Curt Hasbargen questioned the need for a facility assessment. The district has already gone through three to four bond referendums, he noted.


"What information are we looking for that we don’t already know?" Hasbargen asked, saying the process seemed "redundant."

Huhta said the district hasn’t had a facility study of this nature.

"It really comes down to how much detail you want," Wellen said. "You walk down the hallway, you know we’re full."

Board chairperson Ernest Huhta Jr. requested a breakdown of each firm’s quote by the April school board meeting.

Board member Durwin Tomperi said it would be helpful to have the proposals written in layman’s terms as well.

The board also authorized Wellen to post for bids for remodeling elementary bathrooms, based on plan specifications from last July.

The project will make the bathrooms handicap-accessible and address air ventilation, sanitation and temperature control issues.

"It stinks like something else down there," said High School Principal Mark Frank.


Board member Al Peterson wondered if the project could be a waste of money if it’s within the footprint of a possible building expansion. He asked whether it should be postponed. 

Wellen said he doesn’t expect the bathroom project to impact future building, adding "It’s pretty meaningful to staff, students and people who attend games."

It could take a year to pass a referendum and another year to let bids, Wellen noted, plus there’s no guarantee a bond will pass.

The motion passed unanimously.


Open enrollment

The board approved all 2016-17 open enrollment applications, except two first graders and one 10th grader because the cap has been met. All three students applied for open enrollment before the Feb. 1 deadline. The first graders have siblings already attending Menahga School.

After a lengthy discussion, the board agreed to allow these three students into the school if spots open up between now and Sept. 1.



No trespass order

At a special meeting last week, the board unanimously agreed to lift a no trespass order against Jon Kangas contingent upon him signing a statement that he’ll follow school policies.

Kangas rejected the condition, calling it an "imposition."

In a letter to the board, he wrote, "After much thought and discussion with my attorney, I have decided I cannot accept the imposition of the condition required by the board’s motion to rescind the order."

Kangas asked the board to cancel the order without any prior conditions.

The board did not discuss the matter.

In other business, the board:


- Learned that seven Warrior speech team members qualified for sections, which will be held April 2. They are Anna Besonen, Kaeden Berg, Amanda Lindquist, Lydia Isaacson, Maria Isaacson, Makayla Hillukka and Shalom Crook.

Clara Buchner was recognized for placing fifth at the regional spelling bee in Brainerd.

Andrew Rockensock and Cara Ballentine were nominated by staff and administration for NJPA Student Recognition.

- Approved district funds for two BPA students and advisor Kali Mitteness to attend the national competition in Boston.

- Accepted a $3,045 grant from Five Wings Arts Council for a middle school theatre experience project, which will be led by senior Kaeden Berg and drama coach Brian Hobson this spring.

- Approved a $2,565 agreement an Interquest Detection Canines for substance awareness and detection services.

- Approved the purchase of a 7-passenger 2016 Dodge Caravan at $20,481, plus tax and licenses.

The board also authorized the ordering of two 77-passenger school buses, per state contract, for fiscal year 2017. Two used buses will be traded in. Wellen said he would present specific pricing for board approval at a later date.


- Approved additional staffing for 2016-17: 1.0 FTE special education teacher, 1.0 FTE middle school social studies teacher, .2 FTE technology teacher, .5 physical education teacher and .8 FTE technology integrationist.

- Accepted Transportation Director Don Maninga’s resignation. He’ll retire July 31 after 20 years of service to the district.

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