Perham's elementary school kitchen project moves forward for summer 2022

The project will help with traffic flow in the lunch lines and eating area and will add two hot and two cold serving stations.

Drawing of planned kitchen remodel.
A preliminary drawing of the kitchen remodel and expansion project at Heart of the Lakes Elementary School.
(Contributed / Perham Public Schools / Perham Focus)

PERHAM — A $1.4 million remodeling project is coming to the Heart of the Lakes Elementary School kitchen in the summer of 2022. The project will help with traffic flow in the lunch lines and eating area and will add two hot and two cold serving stations.

While the project was originally scheduled for summer 2021 , Perham-Dent School Board members decided to wait out high construction costs for items like steel. The costs still ended up coming in about 10-15% higher than they would have last year, though, due to the prevailing wages requirement, Superintendent Mitch Anderson said.

Board members awarded the project to CoBuilt Construction Services , a regional contractor out of Menahga, on Jan. 19 during their board meeting held via Zoom. The district received three bids for the project.

The winning bid of $1,417,225 will be funded through the school district's food service fund and federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. The goal is to work from the end of this school year to about a week prior to the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

With the project set to begin in May, CoBuilt noted ample time for acquiring the needed materials; such delays have impacted construction projects across the nation. The district hoped to prepare for these surprises by bidding the project early and allowing about five months for materials to come in, Anderson said.


The kitchen project is one of the big projects on the district's long-term facilities maintenance planning list, which is part of an ongoing conversation about the next 10 years at the schools. The board plans to hear more facility planning updates at its next meeting on Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. in the high school media center.

The school board hopes to work with a consulting agency to prioritize the list, create a plan for these projects and continuous school maintenance projects over the next 10 years, do a demography study on the number of students and understand the costs.

COVID-19 updates

Along with increased regional cases of COVID-19, Perham Public Schools are seeing increased case levels within school buildings. Anderson said the cases, with the middle school having the fastest rate, are most likely due to the holiday season. As of Jan. 18, there were 15 student and staff cases at the elementary, 16 at the middle school and 10 at the high school.

Chart with different colors on the COVID case levels and plans as cases change.
Perham-Dent school board members approved a mitigation matrix for the 2021-22 school year on Sept. 28, 2021. The matrix shows when masking changes would come based on the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases at each school.
(Contributed / Perham-Dent Schools / Perham Focus)

The cases place each building in the yellow level of the district’s mitigation plan, which recommends face coverings. None of the buildings have reached the orange level this school year, though the middle school is close to the 18 cases that would move the building into this requirement. The orange level requires masks for a period of two weeks. Each building can be at a different level.

Throughout the area, school districts are again transitioning to hybrid and distance learning models due to the growing number of coronavirus cases. Anderson said Perham Public Schools will continue to monitor case levels and communicate with families. The district updates its COVID-19 dashboard daily on the school website.

With the constant need for flexibility and covering classes, school principals and board members thanked staff for their hard work. Athletics director Erin Anderson also thanked staff for their long working hours during the “winter beast” of sports.

The board had previously approved a policy following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Emergency Temporary Standard on vaccination and testing. Following the United States Supreme Court ruling to pause the ETS, the policy will no longer be in place at the district.

Also at the January meeting, the board approved a set of annual items, including:


  • Naming Aaron Kalina as board chair, Justine Anderson as vice chair, Sue Von Ruden as clerk and Cyndy Huber as treasurer. 
  • Reaffirming the district’s disability non-discrimination and harassment and violence policies , which are available on the school website. 
  • Setting the 2022 board meeting schedule as the second Wednesday of the month at 5 p.m. except for January and July. The meetings are in the high school media center unless otherwise indicated.
  • Approving a resolution for special school elections to be held at the Dent, Ottertail and Perham community centers from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. if needed.
Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in enhancing online articles as well as education, feature and health reporting.
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