Park Rapids School Board agrees to cooperative purchases

The school board approved a $1.2 million bus garage quote and a $395,000 playground through two service cooperatives on Oct. 17.

Justin Maaninga, project manager with ICS, presented the Park Rapids School Board on Oct. 17, 2022 with this concept drawing from Midwest Playground Contractors Inc. It shows two of several proposed playgrounds to be built at Century School as part of the Park Rapids Area Schools' ongoing facility improvements. In the foreground is a play area for grades K-2, with a smaller, early childhood play area that, Maaninga said, will be surrounded by a 4-foot high chain-link fence.
Contributed / Park Rapids Area Schools
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The Park Rapids School Board on Oct. 17 entered into two cooperative purchasing agreements for construction of a new bus garage and playgrounds at Century School.

According to Justin Maaninga, a project manager with ICS, state law allows schools to purchase through service cooperatives, which are public, nonprofit, membership-based organizations that solicit competitive bids from their vendors to ensure the lowest cost to the end customer.

Maaninga said ICS recommended awarding a quote for $1,243,909 to Nor-Son Construction, a Baxter-based supplier of Nucor steel building systems, to erect two pre-engineered metal buildings (PEMB) for the bus garage and a detached transportation office with a bus wash bay.

Maaninga compared Nor-Son’s quote to the engineering cost estimate of $1,255,800 and said it would be a cooperative purchase through Sourcewell, a service cooperative to which the school district belongs.

According to a Scope of Work document, the base bid includes the exterior shell of the building, overhead doors, exterior windows.


Maaninga showed the school board rough concept drawings, showing how the building would fit all the school fleet’s buses. He noted that state law requires a PEMB builder to be involved in completing the final design.

Asked why the two buildings are not connected, Maaninga cited budget reasons.

School board member Stephanie Carlson made a motion to approve the Nor-Son bid, and it passed unanimously.

Playground quote

Regarding the Century playgrounds, which need to be moved due to construction of a new parking, pickup and drop-off area on the west side of the school, Maaninga recommended awarding a $395,385 proposal to Midwest Playground Contractors Inc., a.k.a. Northern Playgrounds.

Headquartered in Savage, Midwest is a member of the Northwest Service Co-op, of which the school district is also a member. Maaninga compared their quote to the $400,000 budget for the project.

The quote includes $351,185 for materials and $44,200 for installation, including swings, slides, jungle gyms, a seesaw, toy vehicles and other items, as well as wood fiber surface, border timbers, rubber mats and moving four basketball goals to the end of the new school bus turnaround.

Maaninga also noted that the early childhood playground would be surrounded by a 4-foot high chain-link fence, and the proposed playgrounds will be accessible per the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He said the existing pre-K play equipment would be disposed of, since close examination revealed it has reached the end of its service life, and replaced with “repurposed” equipment while the other play areas will have new equipment.


School board member Dennis Dodge voiced concern about the pre-K play equipment being thrown away, suggesting that the school surplus it out to anyone interested in using it. However, Maaninga said this could raise safety issues, and board chair Sherry Safratowich cautioned against exposing the school to liability.

As to the reason to purchase this now, Maaninga said, “Midwest and Northern has reached out. Dec. 1, there will be a price hike. Also, by getting this now, we’ll be able to guarantee we’ll have the equipment this summer. That is a concern with lead times right now.”

School board member Clayton Hoyt made a motion to approve the Midwest/Northern quote, and it passed unanimously.


Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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