Duluth School Board approves bids on final leg of Red PlanThe Duluth School Board voted in a special meeting Monday to approve the first construction bids for the last schools to be completed under the Red Plan.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
Renovation of Myers-Wilkins and Congdon Park elementary schools will soon be under way.
The Duluth School Board voted in a special meeting Monday to approve the first construction bids for the last schools to be completed under the Red Plan.
The board also authorized the issuance of
$19.3 million in bonds to pay for the remainder of those projects. That vote was meant to happen in May but the process was delayed when the Duluth Taxpayers Association and Minnesota Voters Alliance challenged the Minnesota Department of Education’s decision to approve changes to the Red Plan and additional borrowing.
The approval of construction bids and the ability to borrow Monday night was critical for work to begin to stay on track for 2013 openings for the schools, said Kerry Leider, property and risk manager for the district.
Once the bonds have been sold, which the board will be asked to approve next week, the district will be able to ask the board to green-light more construction bids for the schools. The approved bids Monday totaled $1.2 million for Myers-Wilkins for demolition, asphalt and earthwork, and $172,000 for Congdon Park for structural steel work. The money for that was part of the original budget.
“I think it’s important that the public is aware of what happens when there are suits brought against this district,” said board chairwoman Ann Wasson. “It’s doing harm to the taxpayer and doing harm to this project. We’re two buildings away from completion. Every child in this city deserves equity.”
The board voted 4-0 on each measure. Members Tom Kasper, Art Johnston and Mike Miernicki were absent.
The board next week also will vote on the purchase of Christ Lutheran Church property near the Piedmont Elementary School. The district and the church, at 2415 Ensign St., have been negotiating the sale of the roughly 2.5 acres of green space that the school would use for physical education for nearly three years. Leider wouldn’t disclose the proposed price. If the board votes to approve it, the matter then must be approved by the church’s congregation.
Materials given to church members last summer indicated the district had offered the church $295,000 for the land. Since then, the state has relaxed green space requirements for new urban schools. The board put off a decision about the land last fall, and met in closed session about it in March.
The board will also be asked Tuesday to approve the budget for fiscal year 2013, which will show $3.5 million in reductions. Probably five more non-tenured teachers will be up for termination to add to the six terminated last month, said human resources manager Tim Sworsky. Additional tenured teachers will be laid off, but Sworsky didn’t have an estimate Monday night.