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LP-A to seek bids for demolition of old high school

After repeated attempts to negotiate an agreement for the sale of the old Lake Park-Audubon High School building failed, the LP-A School Board took action Monday night to begin the process of demolition.

First, the board approved a motion to begin developing an asbestos abatement plan and solicit bids for the abatement project. Then the board approved a motion to solicit bids for the building’s demolition.

Separate bid proposals will be requested for abatement and demolition on both the east and west portions of the building, as well as for the full site.

The demolition proposals will also include an alternate option that would leave the shop, band room and other rooms on the north end of the building intact.

In other action, the board approved a few staffing changes, including the resignation of special education paraprofessional Britney Diekmann and the hiring of two new special education paraprofessionals. Both Andrew Weber and DeeAnn Wolfswinkel will be working in the high school.

Sean Degerstrom will be the new head boys’ baseball coach, while Andy Weber was hired as his assistant.

Another staffing change that the board was not eager to make was the approval of school district transportation manager Keith Zachariason’s notice of retirement, effective July 31.

“He can’t retire,” said board member Cara Bjerken, as board chair Vicky Grondahl voiced her agreement with the sentiment.

Bob Henderson, technology coordinator for the district, went over a proposal to expand LP-A’s laptop program to include all students in grades 1-8 — a proposal that would involve the purchase of about 500 new computers.

Currently, the district offers each student in grades 9-10 a laptop for use during the school year. To expand the program into the elementary building, Henderson said, the district would need to update that facility’s technology infrastructure significantly.

The memory upgrade would cost about $5,000, while the network upgrade would cost just under $14,900.

“The network and memory upgrades would need to be put in first,” Henderson told the board.

Once that was done, the elementary building would be more than capable of handling the increased load on its wireless network.

Henderson said that each new laptop would cost about $786, which means that on a four-year lease it would cost the district about $200 per computer, per year, for a total annual cost of about $102,000. A three-year lease would cost about $131,000 per year.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board reviewed a variety of options for addressing the space shortages at the Audubon elementary site, but as was pointed out by Superintendent Dale Hogie, the board has not yet taken action to move ahead with any of the proposals.

A preliminary plan for constructing a new Early Learning Center to house the district’s preschool and kindergarten programs was unveiled at the board’s December meeting.

That plan, which was prepared by Zerr-Berg Architects (ZBA), was for a 22,000-square foot addition to the existing elementary building that included 10 new classrooms as well as an administrative office and lobby area, commons and activity area, mechanical room and storage.

The projected price tag for the addition, along with renovation of 5,350 square feet of space inside the existing facility, was estimated at $4.5 million.

At Monday’s meeting, the board eyed similar projections from ZBA for a smaller addition, which would add anywhere between four and eight new classrooms. The cost projections from ZBA for the smaller addition ranged from $2.8 million for a 13,248 square foot addition, to $4 million for 20,260 square feet.

Other options were also included in the packet from ZBA, including renovation of the existing elementary media center and lunchroom, old locker rooms, south gymnasium and computer lab spaces.

The board authorized Supt. Hogie to look into possible alternative funding sources for part of the project, such as grants and other forms of financial assistance.

But again, as Hogie pointed out, “this isn’t making a commitment, this is looking for possible ways to fund the project (if it moves forward).”

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454