Referendum talks continue, repairs approved at PHS

The Perham-Dent School Board is continuing its preparations to hold a building referendum. Preliminary discussions have focused around potentially holding the vote on May 12 or 19; both dates are Tuesdays. The referendum would pay for several con...

The Perham-Dent School Board is continuing its preparations to hold a building referendum.

Preliminary discussions have focused around potentially holding the vote on May 12 or 19; both dates are Tuesdays.

The referendum would pay for several construction projects that were suggested by a community task force in October, including:

-A new high school building (the unofficially preferred course of action) or updates to the current high school.

-Classroom additions at Prairie Wind Middle School and Heart of the Lakes Elementary School.


-A new Early Childhood Education wing, to be added on to the elementary school.

-Catching up on deferred maintenance needs on and in the district’s facilities.

An amount for the referendum has not been set.

Board members and administrators will meet next on Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. at Perham Health for a special meeting. At this session, paperwork and documentation that is required to be filed will be discussed, including a Review and Comment document required by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Funding information and options for building projects may also be discussed, if the consultant can attend.

Maintenance approved at PHS

At its most recent meeting, the school board approved replacing the air exchanger in the Perham High School auditorium, as well as the high school’s water softener, for a combined estimated cost of $27,700-$32,000.

The roof-based air exchanger, which provides the auditorium’s heat, recently developed a crack that could allow carbon monoxide to leak into the building while running, explained Russ Winkels, the district’s buildings manager.


“These just came to me in the last couple of weeks,” said the district’s superintendent, Mitch Anderson. “This is an example of our high school – its age and some of the deferred maintenance and other issues that we’re experiencing.”

The $20,000-$25,000 fix approved by the board was a “rebuild kit,” which will continue to use existing duct work, reducing the costs associated with labor. According to Winkels’ report, a different unit would have cost about $72,000, plus labor.

For the water softener, the board approved Winkels’ recommendation of a multiple-tank system estimated to cost about $7,700.

Winkels said the system would start out with three tanks – two to actively provide water while the third regenerates. The system would also provide redundancy in case one of the tanks failed.

“It seems like that’s the best solution,” Winkels said, adding that the new system can potentially be moved, should a new school be built, and that a better-softened water supply should prevent some equipment in the kitchen from burning out as quickly.

Temporary classrooms coming to HOTL?

“Our kindergarten numbers last year were, very positively, higher than we anticipated,” said Superintendent Mitch Anderson at a Jan. 21 school board meeting.

An incoming class of about 95 kindergarteners had been expected, and 114 attended the first day of school.


“Obviously, that’s got us looking ahead at future years, if that’s a sign of our enrollment,” Anderson continued, reminding all present that the school’s extra computer lab was converted into a classroom to accommodate the students. “If we’re in that same sort of situation this year (fall 2015), where 115 kindergarteners show up, we’re out of extra space.”

“Unfortunately, after years of not having to refer to the portables, we have to start having that conversation again,” he added.

While the board did not vote on any action at this meeting, Anderson said it may be possible to have residential carpentry students from the high school update an existing portable’s siding, shingles and interior for about $6,000. It was last used as a classroom near the elementary school 10-12 years ago, and is currently being used for storing cleaning supplies.

Board member Vince Pankonin wondered if having one portable classroom would be sufficient for the fall, and whether the maintenance staff would be able to find enough heated storage space elsewhere.

Part of the community task force’s recommendations included building additional classrooms at Heart of the Lakes Elementary School to address the need for more space.

Other news

-Heart of the Lakes Elementary School Principal Jen Hendrickson said that the application for a bike fleet grant, which was filed as a partner with Battle Lake Public Schools, was approved. Through the grant, the schools will get a bike trailer, 40 bikes and other supplies to share.

-Superintendent Mitch Anderson presented the required World’s Best Workforce report for 2013-2014, which explained each of the schools’ improvement goals and Multiple Measurements Ratings from the last school year, and also summarized the past 5 years of Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) results. The report will be available on the district’s website and will be updated as needed.

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