School Board puts playtime on the agendaThe Cloquet School Board has agreed to loan the Washington Elementary School PIE (Partners In Education) $25,000 from the district capital fund to begin work on a playground renovation project several years in the making.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The Cloquet School Board has agreed to loan the Washington Elementary School PIE (Partners In Education) $25,000 from the district capital fund to begin work on a playground renovation project several years in the making.
At its Monday night meeting, the board heard from PIE member Bridget Shrier, who said her group had solicited bids before settling on Xccent, a company based in Wyoming, Minn., to do the work.
“We have almost 700 children using the playground at Washington every day and not enough activities for them to do,” Shrier told the board. “Children have already raised close to $30,000 for the renovation.”
Parts of the existing playground are not ADA-compliant since the existing ground uses “pea rock,” which cannot support the movement of a wheelchair, and the pea rock isn’t deep enough in many places to fully satisfy safety concerns.
The group’s plan calls for moving the existing swing set and installation of an ADA-compliant swing in addition to a new clear rock climbing wall, an “X-wave” play unit which can be used by 20 or more children at once, and other new equipment.
Shrier estimated the cost of the project at $48,403 without the installation of wood chips needed for safety and ADA compliance. That would add about another $11,000 to the total.
The loan would be paid back by PIE to the district’s capital fund.
Washington School Principal Connie Hyde said the loan would be used to begin the work and also address a drainage issue on the playground.
Business Manager Kim Josephson noted that the district could bear the cost of the loan but noted there are other priorities for that fund, including installation of a wireless internet system that could cost in the neighborhood of $200,000 in the future.
In other business, the board also approved language soliciting quotes for snow and ice removal service. The initial language required snow plowing with an inch or more of snowfall, but Buildings and Grounds Director Keith Marti told the board that was excessive.
“The staff recommended two inches,” Marti said. “Otherwise you’d have plows there all the time in the winter.”
Josephson noted that liability issues made the issue important and said the two-inch alternative makes the issue “sidewalks rather than parking lots.” Marti said that existing brush equipment could be used to clean sidewalks but extra time might be needed to make sure sidewalks were cleared in a timely fashion.
The board also appointed a subcommittee to negotiate a new lease agreement with the Cloquet Amateur Hockey Association for use of Northwoods Credit Union Arena. Last year, the district paid $101,430 to lease ice and locker room space.
Board member Duane Buytaert said he sat in on hockey association meetings and wanted to know, especially with the arrival of the new Minnesota Wilderness junior team, if the district would have sole use of its teams’ locker rooms.
“Things are turning around up there, though,” Buytaert said. “They have additional income coming in and it’s money well spent. They are taking better care of the place.”
Superintendent Ken Scarbrough said initial discussions centered on the amount of increase in the lease rates for a new three-year contract. The district is willing to accept a 4 percent increase, which would yield totals ranging from $105,487 in the first year to $114,095 in the final year.
However, Scarbrough said the association wants a 5 percent increase, which would increase the district’s outlay to $106,502 for the coming season, $111,827 in 2013-14 and $117,418 in the 2014-15 year.
“We need to get the parties together and look at the cost, and what the board is willing to pay on a contract,” Scarbrough said.
Buytaert, board chair Gary Huard and board member Jim Crowley were appointed to the subcommittee.
In other actions, the board:
+ Set Dec. 10, 2012, as the public meeting date to discuss the annual levy and district budget, beginning at 6 p.m.
+ Hired Lance Horvat as the new head girls hockey coach. Horvat replaces Mike Bushey, who resigned after last season but remains the school’s cross country coach.