OLIVIA — The BOLD School District is continuing to evaluate its long-term facilities needs, but that process has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Superintendent Dale Brandsoy told school board members on Monday that plans to distribute a survey to gather input from district residents have been postponed. Board members in February had approved hiring a firm to develop a mail survey in hopes of distributing the survey in late March.
In response to questions raised at the board’s April meeting, Brandsoy cited issues related to the pandemic as reasons for delaying the survey. For one, he said the focus has needed to be on the transition to distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic.
He also questioned the validity of a survey conducted as residents in the district deal with the effects of the pandemic. “We know our community members and families are facing difficult challenges during this pandemic,” Brandsoy said. “We feel it is not the right time to distribute a survey.”
The community will be informed when the district is ready to distribute the survey. The superintendent said the survey will likely be revised from the version that was being prepared.
He emphasized that despite postponing the survey, the district continues to move forward with its assessment of facilities needs. A district facilities committee including the school administrators, three school board members and a representative of ICS Consultants Inc., of Blaine, were to have met last week to tour the Bird Island Elementary School. The meeting had to be postponed because only one of the school board members could commit to the scheduled date.
The district, which serves the communities of Bird Island, Lake Lillian and Olivia, has been examining the development of a central campus in Olivia. A citizens committee is urging the district to consider other options as well, including the possibility of discussing building options with the neighboring Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart School District.
The BOLD district is facing the challenge of persistent mold issues in the Bird Island facility. The school moved grades five and six to the Olivia campus for this school year due to mold issues in third floor classrooms, where those grades are located. After learning that the mold problems have expanded, school board members recently agreed to move kindergarten through grade four to the Olivia campus for the coming year as a temporary measure until a decision is made on school facilities. It means all 220 elementary students will be part of the Olivia campus in the coming year.
A previous study completed by ICS Consultants for the district estimated it would cost a minimum of $3.2 million to address the moisture problems causing the mold in the Bird Island facilities. The study estimated it would cost $13.7 million to address all of the elementary school building needs and bring them up to modern requirements.