School board reviews new project designs

By Barbie Porter


The Frazee-Vergas School Board will be putting the spring/summer construction projects out to bid in coming weeks. 

Before the school board approved the action during a special meeting on Monday, Nov. 22, a representative from ICS Consulting provided a presentation about the projects on the to-do list.  The ICS representative said the project planning began awhile ago, and included discussions with a variety of people, including school employees and members of the public. In addition to input on needs and wants, ICS created a design and construction document. 

The board learned the project was broke into three projects. They were told doing so would allow local bidders and larger companies to compete on the projects. He added bidding the projects separately doesn’t mean one contractor won’t get the entire project; it all comes down to bid amounts.

The first project reviewed was the elementary learning center. The space will provide hands-on lessons and expand opportunities for science, math, arts and more. The project will use what is currently a computer lab space. The computer labs have went the way of the dinosaurs, as all students in the Frazee-Vergas School District have personal learning devices assigned to them.  The design provided to the board opens up the space, offers a honeycomb look to the ceiling tiles with some exposed areas. There will also be cabinets with built-in charging stations and more. 

It was noted that the hands-on learning center at the elementary school will be paid for with federal COVID Relief funding. Using federal funds mean there are stipulations attached, such as requiring prevailing wage labor rates. The ICS representative said the other projects do not require those wage specifications as COVID funds wouldn’t be used. Separating the projects may save money with labor costs. 

The next up for discussion at the board meeting was the high school indoor air quality and fire suppression system. The board was told the high school building has two sections that do not have adequate fire protection, and the building has two air handler units that need upgrading. 

The scope of the project includes replacing all duct work, lights and the ceiling where work is done. About 12 doors were said to also be  on the docket to be replaced, as the doors have vents at the bottom which will no longer be needed.

The project with the most components and expense, includes all outdoor work: the new football and track complex, relocating a junior varsity baseball field and adding parking lots. 

The current football field and track will be removed, as well as the bleachers, concession stand and press box. The scoreboard, which was installed recently, will also be removed, but reinstalled at the new field location.

The field will be near the current location, just at a different angle. When the new complex is built, it will all be new, from the field to the expanded eight-lane track, press box, concession stand, ADA grandstand that will seat 800 and public bathrooms (of which there will be five women stalls and three men stalls).

The ICS Consultant warned the board that some aspects of the project updates may come in over budget, based on current price trends. The representative recommended the board go forward with the bidding process, as it will show where the market is specific to the area. When the bids are reviewed, if they come in high, then ICS could discuss where changes to design plans could be made to bring the project in-line with the approved project budget.

The large outdoor project piece also includes parking lots. There will be a new parking lot at the elementary school, one specific for bus traffic to get the mass transit for kids off the street. A parking lot for visitors is also slated to be built near the front door. The current lot would also remain, as it is often at capacity with staff vehicles.

The Early Childhood Family Education program will also have a new parking and drop off area. Currently, the program shares the main lot with the elementary. The new lot would be separate and only for the young learners program. 

At the high school, student parking will be near the football complex, which will double as event parking. More upgrades are set to be made to provide students, staff and visitors the best safety.

Once the bid documents are released, the plan is to review them by late December, as the work would begin in the spring.