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Pequot Lakes School Board approves football field improvement

In Monday's meeting, the Pequot Lakes School Board unanimously approved repairs to their football field to improve drainage.

Of the roughly $245,000 the board authorized for the coming month for construction bond disbursements, almost $100,000 of that was set aside for the field, the north side of which does not drain properly between the 30 yard lines.

"During last year's football season, there was an awful lot of complaints about the drainage of the field," Superintendent Chris Lindholm said. "It was a big debate as to why half of the field was draining and the other half was turning into a swamp. That involved bringing in engineers to collect core samples to try to figure out what is going on."

The engineers found a solution known as a slip drainage and deep variation process, and indicated that it is a requirement to repair the field.

The field was taken apart last summer to allow for pipes to be laid underneath for the school building's expansion, but this problem existed before the construction. No improvements were made to the field itself at that time.

"The big question has been why we didn't fix the problem while it was taken apart," Lindholm said. "To be fair to the people who orchestrated this whole thing, we didn't go into this project to improve field. It was about improving all of these other things, laying down all the pipes and drainage, and putting the field back together."

Board members asked if an error on the part of the construction team led to this issue, but Lindholm assured them that all specifications were met at the time.

In a work session prior to the meeting, the board analysed long-range financing options for the district, but did not come to an agreement yet, expecting a recommendation at their September meeting.

According to their reports, the district would be facing a deficit of roughly $4.5 million in five years if it stays on its current course.

The district, one of the least-funded in the state, has the authority to levy up to $724 per resident without voter approval, but no board member expressed an interest in doing so.

"I am opposed to levying the taxpayer without a vote," chairperson Kim Bolz-Andolshek said. "Being a district that will essentially be one of the least funded districts in the state of Minnesota, maybe we need to find a medium."

Board member Curt Johnson praised the legislative funding system - passed in their previous session allowing school districts like Pequot Lakes access to funding and filling the infamous "doughnut hole" - calling it a "safety valve" for a district that may be facing a significant budgetary issue without it.

"We would have to cut so much otherwise," Johnson said. "Without (this legislation), we would have to try for a voter referendum again, and I am not so sure that would pass."

The board accepted donations from two parties. The first was a $200 donation from the Hackensack American Legion to be used for the band program, and the second was a $3,915 grant from the Five Wings Arts Council to be used on the school's fall musical, "Singin' in the Rain."

Dan Determan
Staff Writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper