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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • School board strategizes on what to do about pool

  • First quote for filter replacement is around $115,000
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  •     One quote is in, and it's in the $115,000 range to replace the failed filter that cleans the water at the main pool and diving pool at the Crookston Community Swimming Pool, Rick Niemela told the Crookston School Board Monday. The transportation and buildings and grounds coordinator said he's waiting for a second quote to come in.   
       That's less than the $200,000-plus estimate offered up last week after the filter failed last week, but still amounts to a major financial monkey wrench thrown into the pool budget. The school district owns the pool, and Business Manager Laura Lyczewski said Monday that the most likely financing option involves tapping into the $150,000 in revenue coming in annually for around seven more years from a voter-approved pool funding ballot question. But around half of that money goes toward the district's annual share of the pool's operating budget deficit, which is split each year with the City of Crookston.   
        "Paying for it is going to take out of that levy for two or three years," Lyczewski explained. "I don't think we can generate that kind of money from other resources."   
        Revenue from fees paid for swimming lessons is a primary source of money for the pool, but it only amounts to around $8,000 a year, she said, and no spring lessons are taking place because the pool is expected to be closed for up to 10 weeks.   
        And then there's Marley Melbye, who was supposed to start next week as the new pool manager, succeeding the retired Ken Stromberg. Superintendent Chris Bates on Monday led the chorus of thank-yous directed at Sarah Reese, director of Polk County Public Health, where Melbye currently works.  
        "Without even being asked, Sarah stepped up and arranged to keep Marley at Public Health so that we could save money over the summer," Bates said. "Clearly, this is a huge gesture of kindness. With no revenue coming in and an employed person that would need to be paid, this is huge for us, so thank you to Sarah Reese and Public Health."   
        Niemela said the three sand filters and bilge tank below them that need to be replaced are the original equipment dating back to when the pool opened more than 30 years ago. Their replacement was included as part of the pool improvement package to take place this summer, along with the roof, that the school board sought to finance with abatement bonds. The state subsequently put the brakes on abatement bond-funded projects, however.    
        Meanwhile, Niemela said, the new ventilation system that's being funded with different bonds will proceed, and he added that the pool's closure might allow the contractor to get started earlier than previously anticipated.    
    Page 2 of 2 -     As the bids continue to come in for all of the projects at the three school buildings, some of which have been below estimates, it was asked Monday if savings on those bids could be applied to the filter replacement project. Lyczewski and Bates agreed that doing so is not an option, legally.
    OTHER SCHOOL BOARD NOTES
        NEW COUNSELOR: The board approved the hiring of new CHS counselor Leah Kent, who will succeed the retiring Jackie Robertson. Kent is the niece of retired music teacher Jim Kent.
    HIGHLAND WINDOWS: After advertising the project a second time, the board approved the window replacement project at Highland School to Red River Glazing of Fargo for $550,000. That’s approximately $5,500 above the estimate. The next lowest bid was just under $816,000.
    LEAVE OF ABSENCE: A leave of absence for fourth grade teacher Kristi Griffin, for an anticipated maternity leave from  October through December 2014, was OK’ed.
    NEW HIRES SOON: Four activities director finalists are being interviewed Tuesday: Josh Hardy, Scott Butt, Greg Garmen and Dave Cresap. Superintendent Chris Bates hopes to announce a new AD by Friday. A new CHS principal could also be named on Friday, he added, as selected applicants continue to be interviewed.
        

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