Winter storm postpones public meeting until March 11 at 6 p.m. at CHS.

    The Crookston School District is paying performance contractor Johnson Controls $20,000 to assess the three public school buildings and determine what needs to be done to make them more sound structurally, mechanically and efficient. That process involves close inspection of roofs, walls, air-handling systems and more.

    It also involves reaching out to school staff, students and the public to find out what people "value" in their schools and in their community.

    "It's not just roofs, cooling and heating, but the things we as a school, community, staff and student body have passions about," Superintendent Chris Bates explained. "This will help the school board in many ways as we face the many complex decisions we have to make in the near future."

    The school board does have some weighty issues on its plate relating to not just the three schools, but the swimming pool as well, which the district owns. The pool is in dire need of a roof and has major air-handling deficiencies that need to be addressed. The high school has roof issues, too, and Washington School needs some work.

    Years ago, the district entered into a ten-year contract with Johnson Controls, which works with school districts and other municipalities and entities across the Midwest. The contractor took measures to improve energy efficiency in the school buildings and, the theory goes, the district used the energy savings to pay Johnson Controls $200,000 a year over the life of the contract. Johnson Controls would like to coordinate the district's efforts to tackle the latest building-related issues, thus, this $20,000 evaluation process. The school board earlier in the winter OK'ed the $20,000 expense, as long as it was understood that it bound the board to nothing, that the board could choose to hire any contractor(s) it wanted to, based on the information Johnson Controls provided after its evaluation.

    But back to that "values" component. Johnson Controls representatives had scheduled a series of meetings on March 4-5 with students, teachers and other staff in all three schools, as well as the school board and administration. The winter storm led to all of the meetings being postponed a week, so now they'll be held over two days next week, March 11-12.

    One especially important meeting, Bates said, will be held on Monday, March 11 at 6 p.m. in the high school auditorium, to which Johnson Controls invites the general public. Bates encourages teachers and staff to invite their friends in the community to come. "The more people that attend, the better off we will be," he said. "No one should feel excluded or left out."

    The feedback Johnson Controls receives at the meetings will become part of the "values definition" it includes in its evaluation.