WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board voted Monday afternoon to apply to the Minnesota Department of Transportation for a grant from the Safe Routes to School Program.
The application was recommended by Superintendent Dr. Jerry Kjergaard. He said MnDOT has established the program for regional development commissions to work on preparing plans for safe routes to school.
Mid-Minnesota Development Commission, the regional development commission headquartered in Willmar, completed a trails and pedestrian plan for Willmar and he said this is a great opportunity for the school district.
Kjergaard said the school district tried for the grant two years ago but did not receive it.
The current round of grants is for schools kindergarten through eighth grade. Applications are due April 27.
Grants are provided in two ways: to assist in planning -- Mid-Minnesota Development Commission would help put together a plan for future funding; and grants for education, enforcement and evaluation.
Kjergaard said Matthew Johnson from Mid-Minnesota Development Commission proposes that his office work with the school district, the Willmar Police Department, Willmar Bus Service, and Kandiyohi County Public Health on creating a plan, which uses some of the projects identified in Willmar's trails and pedestrian plan.
In addition, projects would be customized based on feedback received from various stakeholders.
In other business Monday, the School Board approved the low bid of $283,500 from Chester Contracting of Willmar and awarded a contract to the company for the second phase of the Middle School kitchen and cafeteria remodeling project this summer.
The contract was recommended by Pam Harrington, business and finance director. The estimate from Cities Edge Architects of Willmar for the project was over $300,000, said Harrington.
The work will include moving a walk-in cooler to the present dish room. The purpose is to align all storage units -- cooler, freezer and dry storage -- in one row for a more efficient work flow for staff and greater accessibility to food and supplies for food production.
The existing dish machine is currently being held together by clamps and needs to be replaced, according to Harrington. A new dish machine will be installed on the kitchen west wall.
The three-compartment sink used for sanitizing food preparation equipment will be moved to the same area so that all kitchen sanitizing will occur in one spot to improve kitchen flow and staff efficiency.
The work will also consist of new shelving for the walk-in cooler, walk-in freezer and dry storeroom; the serving lines and snack bar area will be shifted to the east side of the kitchen; and a third roll-down door installed.
According to Harrington, the goal is to provide more menu options and allow for less wait time in line and more sit-down eating time for students. The work will complement the goal of Food and Nutrition Services to provide healthy, nutritious meals in a comfortable environment.
Also, the cafeteria and eating area will have new lights, ceiling tile and floor tile; the west single door will be converted to a double door; and ventilation will be updated as needed.
Five other companies also submitted bids ranging from $309,498 to $369,807.
In other action, the board approved the $1.5 million capital and deferred maintenance projects budget for the 2013 fiscal year beginning July 1. The funding is earmarked for capital projects and equipment and cannot be spent for general operating expenses.
The capital budget includes $215,000 for iPad leases. A portion of that will be considered the school district's matching funds for a community fundraising campaign.
Other projects include technology improvements to the district's network, computer labs and computer inventory; improvements to plumbing, electrical and ventilation systems in school buildings; and parking lot overlays.
The budget was recommended by Harrington and the Buildings and Grounds Committee. Harrington said the operating capital and deferred maintenance budget is approved before the remainder of the budget and allows the district to request bids and proposals before school starts in September.