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School board officially approves contract with Woodruff Construction, work to begin this week

School board officially approves contract with Woodruff Construction, work to begin this week
School board members Isaiah Tilton, Missy Freund, Jason Walker, Robin Macomber, Scott Dight and Josh Mack prepare for Monday’s meeting behind some sharp new signage. (Press photo James Grob.)
By James Grob,

There were two meetings wrapped into one Monday, as the Charles City Community School District Board of Education conducted its regular meeting along with its annual meeting.

The school district officially offered a contract to Woodruff Construction to build a new baseball/softball complex, and also offered a “memorandum of understanding” with The Learning Center (TLC) as part of the regular meeting.

The board approved the contract with Woodruff for $2,054,887.67 to complete work on the project. At the Aug. 26 meeting, the board accepted Woodruff’s bid on the project, and the contract was prepared according to the information in specifications by Tim Moreau of Veenstra & Kimm engineering and Gary Anderson of Skott & Anderson Architects.

Charles City Superintendent Mike Fisher told the directors the district was looking into ways to trim the price.

“We are currently working on some possible cost reductions,” he said. “In our mind, this is the highest the cost would be.”

Fisher said the cost-saving measures could be in the $100,000 to $150,000 range. He said that money raised from the expected sale of the Shadow Avenue property could also go back into the project. He also said that the district was looking into new grant-writing opportunities and fundraising initiatives, and that since May 1, more than $900,000 had been raised for the project.

“I still don’t like the higher cost at this point,” said Director Scott Dight. “I do think that we’ll be fine, however.”

Fisher said that Woodruff Construction has an excellent track record, and was the company that did the renovations at Harlan Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge in 2008, where the state high school softball tournament is played every year.

“We do feel like we’re working with a very credible company,” Fisher said.

Construction on the complex will start this week, weather permitting.

“Barring weather, their anticipation is to be done before Christmas,” Fisher said. “We have performance bonds holding them to that, and that’s been our plan along. That gives us more time to get ready for the first day of the season.”

Fisher admitted that snow days and other factors could impact that timeline.

“We can’t control the weather, but I will tell you that we are moving as fast as possible, within a construction timeline, to make this happen,” he said.

The vote to approve the contract was 4-1 Monday, with Director Jason Walker voting against.

“I’d just like to echo may previously-stated concerns about the cost of the project,” said Walker, who had voted against accepting Woodruff’s bid at the Aug. 26 meeting.

The board also approved an access and indemnity agreement with the city of Charles City as a part of the regular meeting Monday, which will terminate on the completion of the district work on the parcel of land or the conveyance of the parcel to the district, whichever comes first.

The city plans at its Sept. 16 meeting to transfer 0.46 acres — 100 feet by 200 feet — to facilitate the reconstruction and realignment of Comet Drive needed in the design of the new baseball and softball fields.

The school district has a desire to gain access to this parcel prior to the city action and district acceptance on Sept. 23. The city of Charles City has indicated it is agreeable to this proposal if the school district agrees to sign an access and indemnity agreement and lists the city as an “additional insured” on its liability policy.

The board approved the memorandum of understanding with TLC through June 30, 2020. TLC and the district are continuing discussion regarding the utilization of space in the North Grand Building 1970 addition, and the memorandum outlines the description of the project and the responsibilities of each party.

The school district and TLC will act as “preferred partners to provide shared opportunities and collaborative experiences to benefit students and children of the district and TLC,” according to the memorandum.

As part of the annual meeting, the board reappointed Terri O’Brien as the district secretary and treasurer for 2019-20, appointed Ahlers and Cooney as legal counsel for the school year, named the Charles City Press as the district’s official publication, and appointed senior Isaiah Tilton and junior Cael Ruzicka as the student board members for the school year.

O’Brien presented the board members with affidavits of school depositories. The board received and examined the statements from the depository banks, C US Bank, Bankers Trust and First Citizens National Bank. O’Brien also enclosed summary information to the board of the district’s certified annual financial report, due Sept. 16.

“In the general fund the undesignated fund balance increased from $1.5 million to $1.6 million, or 9.2%, which is good,” O’Brien said. “Part of that is due to an increase in enrollment.”

O’Brien said that enrollment in the district had increased by 40 students.

“That directly affects our funding for the year,” she said.

The board unanimously approved the report as submitted. The entire report is available for public viewing on the school district’s website.

The board also named Marcia DeVore as the district’s level I investigator for the 2019-20 school year. The level II investigator will be a liaison from the Charles City Police Department. The investigators look into allegations of abuse of students by school staff.

Also at the annual meeting, the board requested supplemental state aid in the amount of $126,905.45 for fiscal year 2019 special education balance. The special education supplement report for the Iowa Department of Education was completed using the the certified annual report and other information. The deficit is down from $226,488 last year.

It was announced that majority of the board members will gather at Comet Field on Friday, prior to the start of the football game, for a “listening post” to answer questions from district patrons. The board members will be gathered outside the bathrooms to the right of the entrance to Comet Field.

In other action Monday, the board:
— Approved the licensed employee modification for Susan Leeper due to an increase of four hours from 20-24 hours for assuming the Immaculate Conception vocal music teacher position, in addition to her duties as home school assistance teacher. Leeper’s salary increased in the amount of $7,085.30 to $42,511.80.
— Heard a presentation from Next 20 team members, who explained their work and answered questions on how they developed the districts essential competencies from “Portrait of a Graduate.”
— Approved a request from high school social studies teacher Robert Pittman for a spring break social studies trip to Greece.
— Approved an agreement with Turning Leaf Counseling to provide assessment, counseling and therapy services for the 2019-20 school year.
— Approved the agreement with the Iowa Department of Human Services and Juvenile Court Services for school-based supervision services for 2019-20. The contract will fund $17,943.28 of work. Employee Dan Caffray provides juvenile court services.
— Approved the agreement with Synergy Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine to provide service for home events and physical therapy services for the 2019-20 school year.
— Approved the contract with Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services for partial funding of the transitional alliance program position for 2019-20.
— Approved the resignation of Rick Gabel, 10th-grade baseball coach, effective Sept. 9.