The Fillmore Central School Board met on Wednesday, Feb. 26, to discuss pending projects to improve both facilities in Preston and in Harmony and the funding for those improvements.

Superintendent Richard Keith briefed the board regarding the projects saying, "Fillmore Central has two great facilities and some of the projects are mandatory."

Keith opened the discussion with a description of the maintenance plan and priority placed on certain items. The improvements were divided into a priority one category and a priority two category depending on their urgency. Two of the improvements the board discussed were parking lot renovations and the sprinkler system in the high school at Harmony.

Priority one

The parking lots at both schools are in need of repair, according to Keith. At the elementary school, parking to the west is only gravel and full of bad ruts that may institute the lost of a tire sometime. Parking on the south side also needs renovation. In that lot there is no storm sewer ensuring good drainage, but one must be added.

Placing additional parking spaces was discussed as well. On the east side of the school spaces may be added in front of the main doors. Another possibility is adding another row of parking to the south, although there are some grade problems with that area.

A third item brought up regarding elementary parking was a suggestion to add a drop-off lane for when kids are brought to the school. Presently, the time frame for the buses and parents bringing kids to the school creates problems with limited parking and both arriving not too far apart. In all, the projected cost for the elementary parking renovations was estimated around $600,000 to $700,000.

The high school parking lot also needs repair at the back of the building. This would simply be resurfacing, but the city of Harmony may add a sidewalk, which would reduce the space available in the parking lot.

Also in the high school, the fire marshal mandated a sprinkler system be put into the building. A few years ago debate arose of possibly abandoning the high school in Harmony and moving all the students to Preston and there would be no need to put in a sprinkler system.

However, discussion about leaving Harmony ceased since the elementary school utilizes between 85 to 95 percent of the space available and, in fact, is running out of room in some areas. Now that Fillmore Central will continue using the high school building, the sprinkler system must be completed.

Other priority one projects listed were ceiling tile and sheetrock issues and the baseball fence for the elementary school and music room carpeting, asbestos removal, windows and exterior and interior doors within the high school.

Priority two

Priority two renovations included restroom, water fountain and shower upgrades, updating obsolete CCTV camera systems and electronic signage district wide to display elementary and high school events.

Where the signs would be placed is yet to be determined. Still, suggestions were made of mounting a one-sided sign on the elementary school and a two-sided sign placed either on the east side of the high school or at the entrance to Harmony. The benefit for it remaining on high school property is that MnDOT could not interfere with the high school except on regulations regarding the brightness of the sign during certain hours.

In the elementary school, improvements included an HVAC upgrade, playground resurfacing and replacing windows. In the high school, another problem arose in the placement of the school offices.

Future ideas and changes

A few new ideas in the future involved high school offices, weight rooms and another addition onto the building.

Concerns manifested themselves with the problem of the school offices being on the second floor of the high school rather than on the first floor. If someone unknown were to walk into the school, what they could do is merely see their faces on a monitor and buzz them up to the office. For the safety of the students, the board discussed transferring the offices down a level.

Though the custodians have done a great job in the weight room, according to Keith, it is still not easily accessible to the students. A list of how to amend this has been started. These include making a fitness center for the city as well or transferring the media center to the old office area, if the offices have been moved to the first floor at that time. This list is open to discussion and more suggestions.

The final idea was building an addition onto the high school to give the facility a distinct entrance with a canopy and bring the offices to the main entrance. Mention was also made of converting the present media center into the offices and moving the media center up onto the second floor.

Impact on the taxpayers

The superintendent and facilities committee have found an opportunity to finance the most needed projects with a zero percent increase in the district tax base. They originally planned on dividing the improvements into two different bonds to pay for the changes.

Now, however, with the expiration of the current bonds, several health, safety and facilities projects can be packaged into a single bond with zero percentage increase. The total cost for the priority changes was projected to be $4.66 million.

Problems surfaced in the time frame given to the board. The period is very short and would have required an approval on the bond resolution for the $4.66 million on Wednesday, Feb. 26, or prior to the next board meeting for the issuance of the bond in March. The board desires the public's opinion on this bond before approving the resolution and on moving the office in the high school. The time crunch is to ensure the levy remains equal.

The board will be holding a special board meeting sometime within the next few weeks, before the regular board meeting. This will give the public the chance to comment on the improvements and the resolution for the bond.