Ely Construction Cost Overruns Affect School Board | News, Sports, Jobs


Cost overruns caused by inflation have impacted planned construction at Rugby’s Ely Elementary School campus, according to information presented to the Rugby Public School Board by Superintendent Mike McNeff on April 8.

“Good thing you’re all seated,” Board Chairman Dustin Hager joked as he presented the project update.

As he presented briefing slides on a screen to the council, McNeff said: “Just to give you an overview (of rising costs), on September 22 they were planning $8.6 million at the time and we knew we had $9.1 million (budgeted for the project). “

McNeff said of the September estimate, “At the time, we thought, ‘Okay, we’re a little under budget, even if that didn’t include the special education renovations at about half a million dollars, but we thought always that we could make it work over a two-year project.”

“Feb. On December 18, we got an updated budget that went to $9.4 million, based on more projections. Then on April 6, they came back and said it would be 10.1 millions of dollars.

McNeff said the originally budgeted sum came from $7.87 million raised in a bond issue passed by voters on Dec. 1, plus $1.3 million in funds from the National Relief Act. Emergency in Elementary and Secondary Schools, or ESSER.

“So you can kind of do the math there. That’s about a million dollars off,” McNeff said. “And who do you blame? It’s the market. »

“We had anticipated a cost increase, but the bids came back higher than the cost increase,” McNeff said.

Council members discussed ways to reduce the district’s budget in other areas to make more funds available for the project. The cuts concerned staffing and extracurricular activities.

Other ideas included scaling down the project itself so that the asphalt in the parking lot was replaced with gravel.

“You can delete the gym update or the commons”, McNeff said. “I don’t know if we want to do that. I don’t think that’s a good idea. These things are pretty essential for the project.

“But you have to cut a million dollars – even more than that, 1.5 million dollars”, McNeff said, adding that many parts of the project were needed and approved by school district voters on Dec. 1.

“So we meet with Consolidated Construction to think a little more. We met the architect yesterday. They have a list of things that maybe we could delay,” McNeff said.

The board also considered ways to seek more funding to fill the gap, including sources from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

Hager said funding from public sources could be complicated by the district’s absorption of the former Wolford School District in 2019, which gave the rugby district a temporary financial boost and dismissed it a funding formula used by the state to determine the amount of money sent to the district.

Member Nick Schmaltz asked if the school board could hold a special meeting to discuss ways to reduce the construction budget. The council agreed, but did not set a date for a special meeting.

District business manager Dawn Hauck said the district’s general fund balance increased by $270,000. Hauck rated part of the fund “It’s ESSER money, which will be transferred to the construction fund. There is $389,000 that has not yet been transferred,” Hauck said some of the money from the general fund would help pay for the architectural costs of the project.

Hauck said the district is awaiting legal consultation to ensure compliance with regulations governing the transfers to ensure they comply with ESSER and other requirements. Hauck said after the legal consultation and transfer, “then you’ll have more accurate numbers on what’s in the general fund.”

Hauck noted that the district’s special reserve fund, sinking fund and activity fund were “follow up well” and “Ordinary.” She added that the district’s hot lunch fund had a larger balance than most years due to federal COVID assistance providing all school lunches for free in the district.

Ely Elementary Principal Jason Gullickson told the council that elementary school students were busy with projects in the upper grades. Fifth graders were working on “Passionate Projects” or projects dedicated to activities they liked to do. Gullickson said the students presented their projects at a recent open house at the school. Sixth graders were also busy wrapping up capstone projects, which showcase the skills and learning students developed during their time at Ely Elementary.

Gullickson noted that standardized tests would be administered in language arts, math and science in April, depending on grade levels.

High School Rugby Principal Jared Blikre gave highlights of state competitions where middle and high school rugby students won top prizes. Blikre praised middle schooler Carter Teigen, who he said “won the first prize in the individual competition of the State Math Counts competition in Bismarck.”

Blikre also congratulated the students participating in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Speech and Music program competitions for their success.

Blikre said student groups would compete in speech and vocal music competitions. Rugby High seniors will present capstone projects to the school on April 19.

In other cases, Leah Johnson, an English teacher at Rugby High, presented a learning continuum plan to enable students from non-traditional school pathways to receive an education. The plan included standards that students had to meet as they progressed through each class. Johnson said the plan resulted from recommendations from the North Dakota Department of Instruction after the North Dakota state legislature voted to reach more students.

Johnson noted that the plan left many gaps for local districts to fill.

“The problem with this, going forward, is that there’s no real direction from DPI on how to do this,” says Johnson.

The board also voted to designate Rugby High School as the polling place for the June 7 school board election. Board Chairman Dustin Hager said one candidate, Chad Ducscher, had come forward.

The board also reviewed and approved a report on the district’s vocational and technical programs and the students they served. McNeff said the district is releasing the report to comply with the requirements of the federal Carl D. Perkins School Funding Program.

The council also considered a school bus service contract with Hartley’s Bus Sales Rugby. McNeff said the contract reflected the pressure caused by inflation, which included a $15,000 fuel surcharge added during the current school year. The board voted to approve the contract.

McNeff told the council that the district has heard concerns expressed by parents working as school staff who are struggling to find daycare for their children. After announcing the appointment of a daycare director, McNeff said the district shelved the idea of ​​opening a daycare center in the school district for staff use.

“Based on the applications, we didn’t feel like we wanted to fill the position at that time,” McNeff added.

McNeff said he had meetings with Heart of America Medical Center CEO Erik Christenson and Jeff Duchscher of Rugby Manufacturing to discuss “a much broader collaboration” one of rugby’s top three employers. McNeff suggested that in the meantime, the hospital’s daycare center, Kids Next Door, might have open slots for the children of RPSD teachers.

“That should help parents. We still need a few slots with (the kids of the staff), especially the one we just hired,” McNeff added.

Board members also discussed the Be Legendary School Board training workshop they attended with Carrington School Board. Two Carrington board representatives, Kevin Wolsky and Chris Kuehn, attended the rugby meeting on April 8.


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