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DL school board reorganizes, awards bonds for $49 million building project

The freshly sworn in 2019 Detroit Lakes School Board posed for this photograph Wednesday night with Superintendent Doug Froke, upper right. Board members include (clockwise from upper left) Jane Foltz, Jennifer Pedersen, John Steffl, Amy Erickson, April Thomas and Kylie Johnson. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

Two new board members were sworn in, board officers were appointed, and the sale of $47.5 million in general obligation bonds for the school district's impending $49 million building construction project was finalized at a special meeting of the Detroit Lakes School Board on Wednesday night.

New school board members April Thomas and Jennifer Pedersen were sworn in along with newly re-elected board member Kylie Johnson and returning board members Amy Erickson, John Steffl and Jane Foltz.

Board members unanimously voted to appoint the following officers for 2019: Erickson as board chair, Steffl as vice chair, Johnson as secretary and Foltz as treasurer.

Starting in March, the board will also begin holding two meetings per month, with the second Monday of the month reserved for a board work session that will be for discussion purposes only, and the board's regular meetings to be held on the third Monday of the month. Both sessions will begin at 5:30 p.m.

After the board's organizational business was taken care of, Shelby McQuay of Ehlers, Inc., presented a report on the bond sale that had taken place Wednesday morning, noting that 10 firms had come forward to place bids on the project, including a nice mix of bidders from local, state and national firms.

"Bids ranged from a low of 3.16 percent to a high of 3.36 percent," McQuay noted, with the low bid coming from the Red Bank, New Jersey financial firm of Robert W. Baird & Company.

The board unanimously approved the sale of the bonds to Baird & Co. at a rate of 3.16 percent.

Baird's bid was well under Ehlers' pre-election estimate of 3.95 percent, and even its pre-sale estimate of 3.81 percent when the bids were let in late November.

"This means the district will save approximately $4.4 million (over the life of the bond)," McQuay explained.

The board's regular meeting is set for this coming Monday, Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m. Notable items on the agenda include a presentation by Brian Berg of Zerr Berg Architects, regarding the aforementioned building project, which will include renovations and additions to both elementary schools as well as the middle and high school facilities; and discussion of changes to various district policies regarding open enrollment, immunization requirements and violence prevention.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

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