The Pine River-Backus School Board began plans for budgeting funds that are committed for construction work at its meeting Monday, July 15.

In recent years the district has used similar funds to pay for roofing projects, grandstand repairs, construction of a football field storage shed and work on the elementary school media center. Now the board is considering committing funds for renovating the high school media center, the career technical spaces, high school gymnasium and elementary school lockers.

There is no estimate for the cost of these projects at this time. The district may be able to start with estimates prepared for the failed school bond referendum for the media center and high school gymnasium. The amounts will not be exactly the same, however, as those prices came in a bundle with all other projects. But cost estimates may still be comparable.

Board member Dawn Rubner said she would like to decide on the exact projects and costs after the board has a chance to tour the facilities.

Board member Dave Sheley pointed out that work on the gymnasium is not optional as the district has been getting years of extensions on resolving compliance issues.

Rubner asked if the board is considering asking for another public funding option. Superintendent Dave Endicott said the board would have to discuss that possibility at a future meeting.

Business Manager Jolene Bengtson recommended the board wait for the September work session before finalizing any amounts or plans because by then the audit will be done and the district will have a solid view of its budget and finances.

Endicott had earlier agreed to organize a tour led by Director of Buildings and Grounds Karl Flier in August at the request of board members. Some board members felt the tour would offer them the opportunity to see facility needs firsthand.

In other business Monday, the board:

  • Heard Superintendent Endicott's summary of the issues he and other Minnesota superintendents supported while visiting legislators in Washington, D.C., including: full funding for special education, reauthorizing the Higher Education Act to attract more people into teaching fields, returning to a five-year reporting period for the Child Nutrition Act and other topics.
  • Reviewed the possibility of creating a high reliability schools coordinator position, which could replace the district's community asset developer position. The coordinator position would have some overlap with the community asset developer position and would likely be offered to Tina Hanneken, current community asset developer.