By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
TSP Architects, in business since 1930, was chosen from 12 architectural firms to create a facilities analysis of Little Falls district buildings and sites. This would include everything up to a referendum and the construction.
With the newest building within the district 42 years old, and many of the buildings’ windows, doors and more not up to code, Superintendent Stephen Jones held community meetings in August and September to get feedback from Little Falls residents.
Jones said he doesn’t want to just replace the roofs, doors and windows, but eliminate the issues caused by them.
Board Member Brad Laager said at the August Board meeting, “If you’re not going to build new, you have to take care of what you have.”
Another issue Jones brought up at the August meeting is that Little Falls Schools are almost at capacity for students.
“The schools have changed since the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when they were built,” he said.
Laager agreed, and said that when he started teaching in Little Falls, there was one room for special education. Today there are 14-15 rooms.
During the five community meetings held by the district, about 175 people voiced concerns with maintenance and engineering items such as roofs, windows, doors, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, along with general repair. Safety and security were also discussed since the Little Falls facilities were not constructed with today’s focus on building security, said Jones.
“Other items that generated conversation included a community center/fieldhouse concept, parking facilities, grounds classroom enhancements and early childhood family education,” said Jones.
TSP representative Ron Halgerson from the company’s Marshall office, said the company’s focus is on K-12 education. He and his team will meet with the planning committee and do a walk-through of the buildings to analyze the needs of the district.
“There will be a public meeting,” he said. “Then the team will take 90 days to evaluate and make recommendations. From there, the (Minnesota) Department of Education will need to approve the plans, along with the public through a referendum. Construction will then begin.”
Little Falls School Board Briefs
Other business brought before the Little Falls School Board Tuesday night included:
•Authorizing the Wellness Committee to purchase and award gifts and prizes in the amount of $3,200 for the four fitness challenges during the 2014-15 school year, along with purchasing healthy snacks monthly for all employees, not to exceed $1,000. The funds for the District Fitness Challenge come from the 2004 tobacco settlement that must be used for teachers and staff only to promote wellness;
•Voting to employ Scott Orians as a network administrator and Tyler Thomes as the JV girls basketball coach; accepting the resignations of Samantha Koester as a paraprofessional at Lincoln elementary and Tyler Thomes as a ninth grade girls basketball coach; and terminating Mike Lattimer as custodian at the Community High School;
•Accepting a drum throne, double bass drum pedal, cymbal stand and china cymbal to the high school band program; $100 from Neal and Julia Weisz, $250 from Mark and Jaci Fritz, $2,000 from Pinehaven Youth and Family Services, $5,000 from the Flyer Athletic Boosters, $250 from Atomic Learning and $250 from Stephen Jones and Kristin Haugo-Jones, all for the Swim Club; $30.10 from the Funding Factory, $43 from Doug and Laurie Veillette and $102.96 from Terracycle US LLC, all for the middle school; and $75 from Zion Lutheran Women to the Lindbergh Elementary School for the clothing fund;
•Voting to rent 61.25 tillable acres near the Morrison County Fairground to Scott Doroff for $20 per acre. Half the amount ($612.50) is due May 15, 2015, and the other half id due Nov. 15, 2015. The amounts will be reduced by the amount of property taxes paid by Doroff;
•Discussing the 24 acres of land previously rented by Eric Smude. Erin Daninger, agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at the Little Falls Community High School, would like to use the land for FFA projects to promote the program;
•Approving the assurances of compliance stating the district is complying with state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination and have implemented a system for developing and evaluating teachers and principals within the district;
•Approving the Minnesota State High School League grant which offsets student activity fees;
•Approving the annual audit as presented by Janel Bitzan of Kern, DeWenter, Viere; and
•Taping the board proceedings on Channel 181 to be aired at a later date.
The next Little Falls School Board meeting will be held at 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 10, at the Morrison County Government Center.