Truman Schools faced with ‘serious’ decisions

TRUMAN – Superintendent Tom Ames forewarned the Truman School Board on Monday that they will face “some serious decision-making” about capital projects at a May 19 meeting.

The school’s roof, playground, sidewalks and tuck-pointing are key areas needing repair or replacement. The board has $125,000 a year to work with.

Money to finance the projects stems from the $1.25 million 10-year referendum district voters approved in November.

“The roof is the key,” Ames said.

He has no cost quotes, just the architect’s estimate for areas over the band room, shops and locker room area. If all areas need replacement, “there goes all the money,” he said.

“But if you can patch and get another three or four years – that doesn’t bust the bank – that’s usually the smarter way to go,” he said.

The sidewalks are “in tough shape,” to the point that the district’s insurance company might not be willing to cover them, Ames told the board.

“The playground – that’s another big project,” he said.

As far as the tuck-pointing, some areas have gaps big enough to stick your finger in, but Ames thinks they can start the project “for less than the $84,000” that one company quoted.

On a positive note, Ames said the school stands a strong possibility of getting 60 “fairly high-speed” used computers from the University of Minnesota. He estimated about $2,000 would be needed to upgrade the software.

Ames also reported on his recent visit to the Comfrey and Butterfield-Odin schools, two facilities with approximately the same student population as Truman, to “see how they were operating” and possibly get some ideas to implement in Truman.

Butterfield-Odin, with a 40 percent minority student population, has experienced an uptick in enrollment, credited to residents working at the Tony Downs plant in St. James.

The school also transports students in grades 9-12 to St. James to take elective courses for the first two hours each school day.

The 1998 tornado that hit Comfrey was tragic, Ames said, but it resulted in the district getting a brand new school, which is heated geo-thermally. The school also shares a librarian with the city, with the city paying the salary.

In other action, the board:

o Adopted a teacher evaluation plan, based on the state guidelines, but geared to the smaller school district. The plan is the culmination of 1 1/2 years of work by teachers in the Truman district.

o Approved an amended boys basketball sharing pact with Granada-Huntley-East Chain and Martin Luther high schools, due to minor changes in the language in the two-year agreement.

o Authorized a three-year contract for Internet and phone service with Frontier Communications. The contract will reduce the district’s monthly cost to $881 from about $3,400, which it had been paying to Socrates telecommunication system in Mankato.

o Heard about the change in the senior class trip. Originally plans to go to Chicago were scrapped when students were unable to raise adequate funds. Instead, the class will go to the Twin Cities from May 17-19.

o Learned that the district was awarded 40 gallons of paint for the elementary auditorium through a grant from True Value.