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ACGC hoping to fix football field prior to game in September

The field at ACGC suffered significant in damage in the storm on Father's Day. Tribune photo by Jasmine Maki

GROVE CITY -- The cost of cleaning up and repairing school property from the Father's Day storm is estimated at $180,000 in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District.

School officials say insurance is expected to cover most of the expenses, but the district is seeking financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pick up some of the remaining costs.

Because Meeker and Kandiyohi counties were included in a recent disaster declaration a majority of the remaining eligible expenses could possibly be covered by federal funds.

A $10,000 donation from Jennie-O Turkey Store will help pay for any costs not covered by insurance or FEMA, such as a $5,000 deductible under the school's insurance, said Dan Tait, ACGC business manager, during a report Monday night to the school board. About $11,000 was lost to depreciation.

It's possible the district may only realize out-of-pocket expenses of a couple thousand dollars, although Tait said they may have to wait for a year to get the FEMA funds.

The school's athletic field took the biggest hit when a large set of $87,000 bleachers was destroyed after it was blown onto the track and football field by strong, straight-line winds. Another set of bleachers sustained $20,000 in damages but can be repaired.

There was also damage to the dugout, the roof of the high school and the playground at the elementary school in Atwater.

The "wild card" is the extent of damage to the track and the money it will take to repair that, said Tait. The bleachers landed hard on the track and gouged holes in it. The track surface will have to be pulled back to determine if the asphalt underneath has been compromised, which could be costly.

The district is under the gun to get the repairs to the field done quickly. The district's first home varsity football game is Sept. 21.

Final removal of the destroyed bleachers was completed Sunday by volunteers, and this week the board approved a bid of $24,954 from Whitcomb Brothers of Atwater for new concrete pads for the bleachers.

Work could begin yet this week, but the concrete needs about 21 days to cure.

"We have no option but to act today," Tait told the board.

To prevent similar damage from happening in the future, the board agreed to anchor the bleachers into the concrete. The old bleachers were anchored into wood planks buried under gravel. Tait said he's hoping FEMA will provide mitigation funding for the extra expense of anchors, but said the district intends to take the action whether federal money is approved or not.

After a presentation and discussion, the board this week approved a three-year school improvement plan -- the result of the elementary school in Atwater being rated as a low-performing school under the state's new rating program -- and approved a related grant application that must be submitted to the state by July 31.

The district is requesting $565,010 per year in grants to fund the improvement plan, which includes hiring four individuals to fill jobs as continuous improvement specialist, data and instruction coach, family and community liaison and building operations manager. All the positions would be utilized by the K-4 elementary school in Atwater.

The improvement plan also includes increased evaluation and coaching of the elementary teachers.

Although the assistance would be targeted at the elementary school, Superintendent Sherri Broderius said the techniques acquired through the program would help the entire district.

The district is expected to know by Sept. 1 if the grant is approved.

If the grant is not approved, the district will still have to improve its performance under the state's Multiple Measurement Rating system, but will have to do so with district funds.

In other action:

The board agreed to install wiring to make both school buildings accessible to wireless technology on the condition the installation bid does not exceed $16,000.

The board was updated on plans to add a 12th bus route in an effort to reduce travel times for students. By double-routing in one area, some elementary students will ride a different bus at a different time than their high school-aged siblings, with one bus going only to the elementary school in Atwater and the other bus going to the high school in Grove City.

After the board spent nearly an hour discussing issues related to leasing space at the school in Cosmos, members agreed to refer the issue to the facility's committee.

Filing for school board opens July 31 and ends Aug. 14. Three positions are up for election this year. Longtime board member Judy Raske said she will not run for re-election. Joel Gratz said he intends to run for re-election, and Jeanna Lilleberg has not decided.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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