The Kingsland community facilities task force convenes at Kingsland High School to review the district's deferred maintenance items.  Clockwise from far left are Al Williams, Jeff Erding, Troy Asher, Jack Bly, Gwen Howard, John Dols, Stu Gross (not visible), Amber Zigan, Jim Hecimovich and John McDonald. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
The Kingsland community facilities task force convenes at Kingsland High School to review the district's deferred maintenance items. Clockwise from far left are Al Williams, Jeff Erding, Troy Asher, Jack Bly, Gwen Howard, John Dols, Stu Gross (not visible), Amber Zigan, Jim Hecimovich and John McDonald. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Members of the newly-formed Kingsland facilities task force convened for the first time last Tuesday evening to accomplish three objectives — first, build a priority list of deferred maintenance items for each of the district’s school buildings; second, build a list of educational improvements for each building; and third, discuss the name of Kingsland Middle School, as it could also be called an intermediate school.
The task force is comprised of Kingsland school board members Troy Asher and Gwen Howard, Kingsland Superintendent John McDonald, Kingsland High School Principal James Hecimovich, building and maintenance director John Dols, teachers Niki DeBuhr and Rachael Burt, and community members Jack Bly, Jeff Erding, Steve Heusinkveld, Stuart Gross, Al Williams and Amber Zigan.
Dols first listed the deferred maintenance items in need of attention at the elementary and high school building in Spring Valley, including leaks in the Kingsland Café roof, loud retrofitted air handling systems installed during the replacement of the west curtain wall that make it hard for students to hear the teacher and asbestos floor tiles in most of the high school. He also reported classroom floors are sinking in the elementary, causing the walls to separate from them, worn carpeting asbestos-based mastic is in high school classrooms, original wiring in the high school has lost its shielding, windows surrounding the preschool courtyard were not caulked properly and now have mortar pulling away, tuckpointing is needed at various locations around the building, the bus garage is in need of paint, the crow’s nest over the football field has had storm damage and has stuck windows, and district administration feels that the installation of a security system complete with a panic button and automatic locks would be beneficial.
“With asbestos abatement, anything you take out for health and safety has to be replaced using capital funds…and we need wiring upgrades,” he said. “The old wiring…I’m not sure what year it’s from, but the shielding on the wiring is degrading, and that’s a fire hazard. It’s something that needs to be addressed because we don’t want to burn the building down.”
At the middle school in Wykoff, Dols has a task of maintaining a vintage heating and ventilation system, “something we have to address sooner or later in order to make it a suitable learning environment for the kids.”
Zigan asked, “Are we talking about $150,000 or more?”
Dols assured her that that was a very, very conservative number. “On a humid day, I would recommend we close the school because I would not deem it a fit environment for our kids because of mold.”
He related that the middle school’s wiring is as aged as the high school’s and that an upgrade would be required in order to handle any new heating and ventilation system.
Also, mercury abatement must be considered the moment that any repairs are attempted on the “new gym” floor because the mercury is sealed into the flooring surface — “there’s a budget of $118,000 to abate the gym, but the caveats are that there are different scenarios because if we take it up and find that it hasn’t leached into the concrete, it’s $118,000, but if it has, then it’s $118,000 and the cost to encapsulate the mercury.”
Dols had other issues to list for both buildings. He stated, “This is just the obvious stuff, but a starting point at both facilities.
Zigan wanted to know if “this would be the deciding point of whether you close Wykoff.”
The board members assured her that “there was never a decision to close” the building. Asher said, “This is more of a ground-floor redo of what we did before.”
Committee members expressed their concern that the middle school be brought up to code and also made capable of handling new technological advances, and their curiosity as to whether the general contractor or the architectural firm that designed the Spring Valley building’s elementary wing and high school renovations are responsible under warranty for making amends for structural problems.
Erding stated, “It appears to me that (architect) DLR hasn’t done the district any favors…if this is contract work, we should be going after the warranty. What do the documents say? And if the contractors did slipshod work, then why are the taxpayers responsible for paying for it?”
McDonald, Asher and Howard agreed that the paperwork for the contract with DLR and its contractors should be found and examined, and they noted that they hoped to have it available to committee members by the next meeting.
The subject of what to call the middle school — a middle school or an intermediate school — followed, and Erding wanted to know if the possibility of returning seventh and eighth graders to the Wykoff building for daily instruction exists.
Hecimovich answered, “We’re locked in due to staffing — we’re not big enough — so we’re locked into being a seventh through 12th grade school, and that’s why it’s confusing to call that a middle school.”
Erding asked, “What is the best and preferred configuration for our students?”
Hecimovich replied, “Oh, by far, sixth, seventh and eighth, because those kids are a far different animal from high school kids. That long term goal would be mine in a heartbeat…and as the district expands and contracts, we need to keep a ‘plug and play’ concept.”
The committee briefly discussed the possible effects of Destination Medical Center, then determined its plans to meet again on Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 6 p.m., with tours of both buildings on its upcoming agendas. The public is welcome to attend facility committee meetings. For more information, contact the Kingsland district office at (507) 346-7276, or log onto the Kingsland website at www.kingsland.k12.mn.us.