Board accepts land donation for school

By Chuck Kajer

The New Prague Area School board took a big step toward its goal of having at least one new elementary school opened by September, 2006.

The board agreed to terms on a donation agreement with Raven Stream Village Development, Inc., for land for an elementary school to be built in the Raven Stream Village Development, west of the current city limits.

The 19-page agreement calls for a parcel of 15 acres on the north side of Main Street West to be donated to the school district. While the exact donation has not been finalized, district engineers and architects are working with the developer, Geiger Properties, the city and Helena Township to finalize everything. If things continue to progress, Todd Christensen of Amcon Construction said the grading of the site could begin on June 6.

Christensen gave board members an update on the budget for construction, saying there was little change from the February budget he presented. There were a few minor changes, which provided a small amount of money to be added to the contingency fund.

As for the New Market site, Christensen and Tim Rybak, the district's operations director, said that the City of New Market, as expected, did not approve the annexation proposal passed by the New Market Township Board.

Christensen said the defeat of Joel Helmberger in the township election the previous week may mean the township will change its position regarding the 120 acre site. He said the developer, On-Site Marketing, will be requesting a public hearing and asking the board to reconsider approving the 120-acre proposal without the provisions that were included in the resolution passed March 1.

“If they were to pass it tomorrow, we’d have a start date of August 2, and we’d be two months behind,” he said. “We would not be able to start school in September in the New Market building.”

Board member Tom Fadden asked if the delay would mean the district would not realize the cost savings of doing two schools at one time. Christensen said they would, and it might actually work in the district’s favor.

“The extra time to finish might attract bidders who would be scared off by the tighter timeline. We could attract more and better bids,” he said.

He said the building would be bid in three packages. The first, for grading, would be let in May, the second, for the shell, would be let in the summer, and the third, for finishing the building would be let in August.

Lee Meyer of KKE Architects said there were several alternates being considered for the proposal, including an area for Early Childhood Family Education classes in the New Market building, different flooring options and windows in the locker area to provide more natural light. “If the budget allows, these could be added,” he said.

Also at Monday’s meeting

• The board received information on the Scott County Association for Leadership and Efficiency, a group of government bodies that meets monthly and works to find ways to cooperate. The group is made up of different cities, townships and school districts in the county, along with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Poplau asked the board to consider signing an equipment lease agreement. The board will consider the proposal at the March 29 meeting.

• The board discussed the proposed school district calendar for 2005-06 and 2006-07, with board members making suggestions for changes. The calendar will be reworked and presented at the next meeting.

• Board members were updated on the 2005-06 budget process. Poplau said there were several areas that were being looked at for change, and that a full budget would be presented at the next meeting.

• A discussion took place on reinstating the cooperative sponsorship agreement with Montgomery-Lonsdale for boys hockey. The Minnesota State High School League has issued numbers for different classes in various sports, and a combined New Prague/Montgomery-Lonsdale team would still be in Class A, just short of the cutoff. The district has received letters from both the High School League and the Montgomery-Lonsdale district to reinstate the agreement for the next two years.

• Board members tabled discussion on their compensation until the next meeting, since only four of the seven members were in attendance.

• The board approved the consent agenda, which included hiring of Rod Zivkovich as Director of Finance. Zivkovich held a similar position for Eden Prairie Schools. Also on the consent agenda was the retirement of Sue Stoddard, a second grade teacher, after 27 years of service.

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