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Reports show high repair costs for B-E

The heating plant at the Evansville school was assessed recently and the components were found to be in poor condition and in need of replacing. The plant has reached the end of its useful life, according to the assessment. (Contributed) 1 / 4
Windows in the 1957 portion of the Brandon School are two-track single-pane glass with aluminum frames. Some are broken and need major repair. (Contributed) 2 / 4
Walls in the 1954 portion of the Evansville School need patching and painting. (Contributed) 3 / 4
The outer walls at the Evansville School are cracking and crumbling and need major repair. (Contributed) 4 / 4

If the Brandon-Evansville School District opted to take care of the immediate deferred maintenance needs for its two facilities, it could cost an estimated $28.2 million.

That was the number Lori Christensen and Jason Splett from ICS Consulting, Inc., the firm hired by the district to help assess its facility issues and needs, presented to the school board during a Monday, Jan. 14 work session.

The two presented detailed information about assessments conducted at each of the buildings, the Brandon School and the Evansville School, which were analyzed by experts who looked at mechanical, electrical, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, interior condition, exterior condition and more.

The sites were assessed by Obermiller Nelson Engineering, JLG Architects, Julee Quarve-Peterson, Inc. and Tremco, Inc., as well as ICS Consulting. Full reports from each of the companies will be uploaded to the Chargers United website at www.bechargersunited.com. This is a dedicated website designed by ICS to keep district residents in the loop throughout the process.

Prior to discussing the findings, Christensen stressed that the assessments are to provide baseline information and a place to start. She said the assessments are in no way ICS telling the district what to do.

"This is not what we are recommending," she said. "This information is being used to help create a foundation for developing solutions and is not a recommendation."

Splett noted, however, that some of the issues need to be addressed before they become bigger issues.

The next step, Christensen said, will be to come up with options — possibly multiple options — for what could be done in a fiscally responsible way.

She said ICS will develop solutions and get input from the taxpayers.

"We want the community to understand the options and what would make the most sense," she said.

The dollar amounts provided during the presentation, which the ICS consultants called budgets, were developed based on the history of recently bid projects of similar scope. The budgets include contractor costs, inflation, contingency, fees and more, but did not account for asbestos abatement. Christensen also said the dollar amounts were not bids or estimates, but simply budgets.

She said ICS understands the concerns for costs, which is why the consultants want to come up with several viable solutions that will hopefully meet the needs of the school district and the communities.

Evansville building

The Evansville school was broken down by the year it was built, added on to or remodeled. The school was built in 1917, but either added on to or remodeled in 1939, 1954 and 1970.

The three-floor facility is 66,675 square feet, and serves grades 4-8, athletics and the senior center.

Enrollment for the 2018-19 school year is about 190 students.

Here are just a few highlights of issues found in and around the facility:

• Flooring needs replacing in the 1917, 1939 and 1954 portions. Most flooring is believed to be asbestos.

• Space sizes with the building do not meet size guidelines.

• Guardrails are not of required height.

• Facility does not contain a fire sprinkling system except in the main corridor of the 1954 and 1970 portion of the building.

• Portions of the facility not being used are open to student access.

• Main electrical service is obsolete and does not have expansion capacity.

• Many plumbing fixtures do not meet current code.

• The 1917, 1939 and 1954 portions of the building have little to no ventilation. Temperature controls are pneumatic, which are obsolete and inefficient.

• Some windows, doors and wall surfaces have deteriorated, need replacement and are at the end of their life cycle.

• Locker and shower rooms in the 1970 portion are not ADA accessible.

• Gym floor in the 1970 portion needs refinishing.

If the district were to correct all the issues found in the entire Evansville facility, the cost would be roughly $15.6 million. The entire assessment overview can be found on the Chargers United website, which details all the issues and corrections that came from the assessments.

Brandon building

The Brandon facility was broken down in the same manner as the Evansville school. The school in Brandon was built in 1957, with additions or remodels in 1970, 1980 and 2004.

The two-floor facility is 77,825 square feet and serves preschool-grade 3 students, as well as students in grades 9-12 and athletics.

Enrollment for the 2018-19 school year was around 309 students.

Here are a few highlights of issues found in and around the facility:

• Locker rooms, showers and restrooms are not up to ADA accessibility code.

• Flooring in portions of the building, especially the 1957 portion, is believed to be asbestos and should be abated.

• The gym floor needs to be refinished.

• Many interior doors are damaged and walls need patching and painting.

• The facility does not have a sprinkler system.

• Electrical services are past life expectancy and there is no room for expansion.

• Plumbing fixtures are outdated and do not meet code.

• The boilers — one fuel oil and one electric — both need replacement.

• Some windows, doors and wall surfaces have deteriorated, need replacement and are at the end of their life cycle.

• Roofs need replacement.

• Temperature controls are pneumatic, not working properly and are obsolete and inefficient.

• There are exterior windows with broken glass.

• Fencing at one of the outdoor fields is in bad repair and needs to be replaced.

If the district were to correct all the issues found in the entire Brandon facility, the cost would be roughly $12.6 million.

Next steps

As the district moves forward, Christensen said ICS will develop options and alternatives and evaluate the tax impact for each solution.

"We will look at how we address these needs and where we want to go from here," she said.

From now through March the ICS team expects to come up with options, budgetary costs and tax impact. The consultants will continue to meet with school board members and school officials on a regular basis. Over the next two months, there will time for community input and review, she said.

And if the district were to decide to go ahead with another referendum, the dates available in 2019 would be Aug. 13 or Nov. 5. However, Christensen stressed that ICS doesn't want the calendar to drive a decision.

As it stands now, the next work session is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m., with the regular board meeting taking place the same day at 7:30 p.m.

Dates for all meetings can be found on the B-E School District website at www.b-e.k12.mn.us/.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

(320) 763-1242
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