Fairmont gym to get cooling upgrade

FAIRMONT – Groups using the annex gym at Fairmont Elementary School will enjoy a more comfortable atmosphere this summer.

On Tuesday, the Fairmont School Board approved an agreement with I&S Group of Mankato. For an estimated fee of $18,750, I&S will oversee bidding and construction management of a dehumidification project for the annex gym during the summer of 2014. The annex gym is located at the former swimming pool site in the eastern portion of Fairmont Elementary School.

Board member Dan Brookens, who serves on the district’s operations committee, told the board that estimated construction costs were $129,750, including the I&S fee. The high school gym and the main gym at the elementary already have undergone dehumidification projects, and there is about $105,000 remaining in the construction fund.

“This is the last big space we have in the schools,” he said.

“Hopefully, this will come in under budget,” said Superintendent Joe Brown. He noted that the annex gym “gets used a lot in the summer” and is “extremely hot,” even into the start of the school year in September.

The project, which would be completed this summer, would only take a couple of weeks. The I&S group anticipates routing piping from the existing chilled water supply line to the air handling unit serving the annex gym. This will result in a much cooler area, as well as reducing the possibility of damage to the gym floor due to humidity.

The board also held a truth-in-taxation public hearing concerning the budget of $23.3 million for the 2013-14 school year and the proposed 2 percent property tax levy increase. The gross levy for this year, payable in 2014, will be about $5.6 million, or about $110,000 more than last year.

No members of the public attended the hearing.

In other business, the board:

o Learned that discussions are continuing between the district and the Joseph Co., which was in charge of the elementary school expansion project. The district is seeking some sort of compensation for the staining and discoloration of some of the windows, which occurred during construction.

o Heard a report from Brown about the Minnesota Department of Education’s “World’s Best Workforce” meeting he attended. The meeting focused on steps to have all students attain college and career preparedness. Brown noted that Fairmont schools already had several of the proposals in practice.

o Requested volunteers step forward to staff grades 7 and 8 study halls and to supervise and help with homework.

o Accepted donations in the amount of $20,000 throughout the year from the Fairmont Athletic Booster Club in support of Fairmont Athletics; $3,750 from the 3M Foundation for graphing calculators at Fairmont High School; $700 from the 3M Foundation in support of Math Counts at FHS; a Forney arc welder and a complete oxygen and acetylene gas welding and cutting unit, each valued at $250, from Bruce Abitz; $500 worth of scrap metal from Redi-Haul Trailers for the welding academy at FHS; $250 from the 3M Foundation to Fairmont Elementary in recognition of volunteer hours served by Diane Hendricks, a retired 3M employee.