Contractors present plans to school board

MARSHALL – In regards to a long-range facilities plan, Marshall Public School board members heard multiple presentations from potential contractors at a work session meeting Monday at Marshall Middle School.

“As you recall, a study had been conducted, talking about our enrollment projections, which indicated up to 24 percent growth in the district in student enrollment,” MPS Superintendent Klint Willert said. “That’s great news, especially out in greater Minnesota. You just don’t see that all that often. So we’re fortunate to have the three firms respond to that request for information.”

Submitting proposals recently to the district and attending the meeting Monday were ATS&R, Energy Services Group (ESG) and TSP.

Representing ATS&R, which is in its 70th year as a school specialist, partner David Maroney spoke to board members about “taking it a step further.” Maroney walked the board through a potential plan, which he said would be a year-long process.

“We want to get everyone involved,” Maroney said. “Eventually, we’ll get a final recommendation and plan for you so you can then spend your money wisely.”

Maroney would help form a comprehensive long-range facilities plan committee (CLRFPC), which would consist of school personnel and community members. Then, four meetings would likely take place, beginning with the first in which the committee would be charged with reviewing all the data related to current facility uses and potential uses and begin building a list of hopes and expectations.

Meeting 2 would involve researching other facilities and options out there, especially those related to 21st Century education. At the third meeting, Maroney expects to begin generating the many different scenarios, figuring in project costs and changes in square footage. The final meeting includes recommendations.

ESG by Honeywell has more than 30 years in the educational facility planning consulting business, representative Steve Schell said during his presentation. Schell noted that the district would not be hiring the company, though, but rather the people. And the majority of those people have ties to Marshall, he said.

“There are SMSU (Southwest Minnesota State University) professors involved and the project manager and the project developer, which is myself, are all from Marshall,” Schell said. “And our focus is on Minnesota K-12 schools. This would be an opportunity to work with a lot of local people working for you, but that also have the global backing as well.”

In addition to the local ties, Schell believes that there are four credentials that will set ESG apart from other contractors.

“I don’t think the others will have certified energy managers, measurement and verification specialists, on-site supervisors or a project manager who can be with you through it all,” he said. “It’s a one-stop shop for you to turn to.”

Schell also presented the board with building infrastructure studies and square footage capacity analysis that were completed in 2013 in addition to the suggested next steps of action and a potential timeline.

A third presenter, TSP representative, Ron Halgerson, had bad news for board members.

“TSP was fully organized and prepared to present information (Monday) and fully engage in discussion, but I found out Friday morning that the lead in our public education group was no longer an employee,” Halgerson said. “This person had a key role in this master planning process. We have 108 employees in five states, so I drew from our extensive capabilities, but in the short period of time, I wasn’t able to come up with an alternative.”

Along with engineers, construction administrators, demographic professionals, site developers and other professionals, master planning team also relies on someone who has strong K-12 master plan experience.

“I couldn’t come up with somebody who was a good fit,” Halgerson said. “So we’re in the unfortunate position to regretfully dismiss ourselves from this process. It’s troubling to me personally and professionally, because we’ve had a long-time relationship with Marshall Public Schools.”

Halgerson did offer to answer any general questions and be a resource in the future for the district if needed.

“Your support and insight is appreciated,” Willert said.

Willert then explained to the board that they could select one of the firms, defer the action until a new superintendent is hired (Willert’s tenure expires at the end of June) or seek other options.

The board also heard information about a potential water project.

“We were approached by the city about implementing a pump station,” Willert said. “It would be a budget capital outlay project. We draw water from the retention pond, but this would be more extensive.”

During the summer, many of the fields are not currently watered properly. A three-year average of $24,590 is spent annually for water on high school fields. That amount includes 695,000 gallons of water. The anticipated cost for the project, which would allow the district to work with the city and be able to tap into the sprinkle systems, is $190,000.

“It seems large, but with increased water rates the opportunity to keep our fields from being dormant, I’d recommend it,” Willert said. “It’s projected that it’ll take seven and three-fourths years to pay off, but it may be better than that.”

MMS teacher Sandy Carpenter also received the Tiger Spotlight award. Carpenter, who has been teaching for 11 years, was recognized for recently receiving the WEM Foundation’s 2014 Outstanding Educator Award.

“She’s exemplary in how she engages students,” Willert said. “She believes active engagement along with ownership of their learning leads to success. Sandy does an exceptional job.”