On Monday, Feb. 22, the Cloquet school board accepted a construction bid for renovations to the high school’s career and technical education space.

Gardner Builders will complete the project for approximately $1,731,375, with funds coming from a $1.86 million bond the district recently received. The bond will be paid for using existing school revenue and will not result in an additional burden on Cloquet taxpayers, officials said.

The bid accepted by the board includes the base project for the career and technical education area, as well as two alternatives — adding asphalt and fencing to an outdoor space at the school and extra windows to the woodshop.

The outdoor space referenced in the plan is located between the high school woodshop and auto shop. It's a high traffic area for students, said Steve Battaglia, high school principal, and currently isn't fenced in. Because of that, the doors must remain locked with a teacher available to grant access to students coming and going between the shops. The lack of fence and pavement also prevents educators from using the space for class projects and storage.

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Battaglia said the outdoor improvements will not only allow for increased storage space and safety, but also for the completion of larger projects by students. Once the outdoor renovations are completed, sheds and storage containers will be used to house equipment, and students will be able to move more freely between the two locations.

While it is not necessary to complete the additional projects, superintendent Michael Cary said it is more cost effective to complete all of the projects at once. He said the fence will also lower the risk for vandalization.

Gardner Builders was selected out of eight potential bidders after presenting the lowest bid for the base project and the two alternatives.

“There was a lot of competition,” said Kerry Leider, Architectural Resources Incorporated (ARI) representative.

Leider has experience working with area contractors and was consulted by the district to oversee the bidding process and assure all bidders were properly certified.

In the end, Leider said he was very comfortable accepting Gardner Builders’ bid for the project.

The board voted unanimously to accept the bid and to include all three projects in the construction plan.

Renovations are set to begin immediately following the end of the academic year and run throughout the summer.

This story was updated to at 12:25 p.m. Feb. 23 to reflect the correct date of the Cloquet School Board meeting. It happened on Monday, Feb. 22. The story was originally posted at noon on Feb. 23. The Pine Journal regrets the error.