BOLD tackles facilities needs: Merely addressing necessary fixes carries $37 million estimate
OLIVIA — From rusted plumbing and cracked plaster to windows taped to cover air leaks, the needs at the BOLD School District's facilities in Bird Island and Olivia are large.
It would cost an estimated $37 million to address all of the needs without making any sort of improvements in how education is delivered, according to an analysis by ICS Consulting of Blaine.
BOLD School Board members are looking at how best to address them.
The board members were to hear a report Monday night from the most recent meeting of a nearly 50-member facilities committee created to look at the issues. It includes residents from across the district, as well as school board representatives.
The committee has met four times since March. The members toured the buildings on the campuses in Bird Island and Olivia and explored a range of options presented by ICS Consulting for the district.
At the latest meeting May 16, committee members agreed on six points to bring to the BOLD School Board members, according to Superintendent Dale Brandsoy. Chief among them is a recommendation that the district immediately begin addressing its most pressing building needs. To do so, board members will be discussing whether to include an excess levy question on the ballot in November.
Board members will have to act by the end of July to put a measure on the ballot, Brandsoy said. They also have the challenge of informing district residents about the needs in the months ahead, he added.
ICS Consulting developed a report looking at a wide range of needs at the three-story elementary school in Bird Island as well as the high school in Olivia. The elementary school in Bird Island, originally built in 1917, is troubled by everything from failed ventilation units to classrooms that have been taken out of service due to high levels of mold.
The needs are pressing at the senior and junior high school facilities in Olivia as well, where ICS Consulting has identified $17.5 million worth of needs. Outdated heating and ventilation systems are problems here too.
There are "multiple unused rooms" in the buildings.
Ryan Hoffman, ICS Consulting, outlined the range of options for the district to explore at the facilities committee meeting on May 16. The options include building a new facility for prekindergarten through grade 12. It could be built on the existing campus in Olivia at an estimated cost of $45 million, according to Hoffman. Or, it could be built at an unspecified location in Bird Island at an estimated cost of $50 million. The higher cost reflects the need to acquire land and build infrastructure.
Other options include replacing the elementary facility in Bird Island at $33 million to constructing a major addition in Olivia for an estimated $37.7 million.
Hoffman said the district could also consider joining with the neighboring Renville County West and Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart districts. This proposal would require an estimated $82 million investment. It includes building a new, centrally located high school in Olivia and new elementary schools in Renville and Buffalo Lake.
The consultant emphasized that all of the options are "conceptual" at this point, and each would likely be revised. "There are thousands of options within these options that need to be explored," he told committee members at Thursday's meeting.
There were lots of differing opinions as committee members discussed the options, according to the superintendent. Brandsoy said that while committee members did not develop a solid course of action yet, they do want board members to try to resolve the district's immediate needs.
He said committee members also agreed that the focus needs to be on the students and the BOLD schools.
School Board members are expected to hold work sessions in early June to continue to explore the options with ICS Consulting, he said.