Crookston Schools’ bus garage advisory committee came to an agreement Thursday to send a recommendation to the Crookston School Board for a new heated bus garage and heated garage space that would be located northwest of Highland Elementary School. The $2.9 million two-building project could be added to the November referendum that would go to voters if approved by the School Board. And yes, the plan is to have concrete bus garage floors.

    The other item on the proposed two-question ballot would ask voters to extend an operating levy they approved in 2011-12 that’s set to expire during the 2021-22 school year. Additionally, the district will have to vote for someone to fill the School Board vacancy.

    The committee has gone over several options created by ICON Architectural Group of Grand Forks and decided on “Option 4” Thursday as the best choice for the district. The proposed heated pre-engineered metal bus garage would be 16,800 square feet and the proposed heated stick-framed garage space would be 3,600 square feet.

    Included in the total cost is approximately $1.325 million, which are average costs for the main components for each building type and include:

    • General conditions: Contractor overhead and profit, insurance, bonding, temporary toilets, dumpsters, and any other related general construction costs - $300,000

    • Sitework: Asphalt paving, building excavation and engineered fill, soil sanitary, storm, electrical and gas services, sidewalks and landscaping - $425,000

    • Mechanical: Sprinkler system, heating and cooling systems, plumbing and ventilation - $400,000

    • Electrical - $200,000

    The district’s current (unheated) bus garage is located in a residential neighborhood near downtown, is around 100 years old and lacks proper ventilation. Most agree that the current bus garage is no longer suitable, yet voters soundly rejected a previous bus garage ballot initiative in May 2017 with cost at that time being the biggest concern.


    The new bus garage committee met for the first time in December 2018 to begin their research. The committee is comprised of people in various areas of expertise including local contractors, carpenters, and farmers. Attending Thursday’s meeting were Travis Oliver, Dan Crane, Crookston School District Superintendent Jeremy Olson, Crookston School Board Chair Frank Fee, District Office Manager Marilyn Wahouske, Ralph Pester, Crookston School Board Member Dave Davidson, Neal Benoit, Scott Kleven, Allan Dragseth, District Business Manager Laura Lyczewski, District Transportation, Buildings and Groups Coordinator Rick Niemela, Highland Elementary School Principal Chris Trostad and ICON’s Todd Blixt.

    The group went back and forth for approximately 90 minutes discussing heated vs. unheated buildings, pre-engineered vs. stick-framed vs. pole structure buildings, concrete vs. gravel floors, site work like asphalt paving, mechanical and electrical options, and more.

    Travis Oliver asked Blixt about the life span of each building discussed with Blixt saying it depends on the maintenance of the building chosen.

    “I’ve seen a lot of buildings go 50, 60, 70 years if maintained properly,” Blixt answered. “I was in a 100-year-old building the other day and it was in good shape and very well maintained.”

    Dragseth asked about concrete vs. gravel and talked about his own buildings where he has both. Blixt said the price difference would be around $180,000, but added that when there are leaking vehicles the fluids would run down in the gravel and it might be more difficult to find a leak than if a vehicle leaked on to concrete. Neimela agreed that concrete makes more sense from a “maintenance stand point.”

    “We can all agree that we need something,” Blixt added later. “When we do face the public and we’ve done all this work, we are all in this together.”

    “What ever we present to the public, if it’s voted down again, it will be a while before we present again,” added Fee.

    Superintendent Olson told the group that everyone at the table needs to give a consistent message after a decision is made and that he needs their help and support.

    “During the referendum phase, we will have to educate people on why we are doing this, what are the costs, and the process for this decision,” Olson explained, adding that he would be in touch with the “Vote Yes” committee to prep for the referendum and give out talking points that have been covered.

    When asked about the timeline to have the new bus garage built if the referendum passes, Olson said they could ask for bids in January or February and start construction in May or June, 2020.