Weather Forecast


Three big River Falls school projects approved

Monday night, Nov. 18, the River Falls school board committed to a series of building repairs and improvements that could cost more than $1.8 million.

Bidding would occur this winter when contractors are eager to plan construction jobs. Most work would be done during summer 2014.

About two-thirds of financing for the new projects would come from almost $1.2 million in unspent funds from the just-completed $19 million referendum.

Passed in 2011, that referendum generated major work projects last summer and the summer before at all schools. The focus was mechanical, safety and energy overhauls.

All projects were created to extend by decades use of current school buildings and to reduce the risk of unforeseen, costly repairs.

After learning there would be leftover referendum money, school administrators and the board examined ways to continue the upgrade/maintenance theme.

Monday night school board president Stacy Johnson Myers said having money to spend on utilitarian upgrades was a “terrific spot to be in”

A Building Committee identified maintenance flaws. Art Tobin, school district building and grounds director, described these as “needs, not wants.”

The breakdown of projects, still tentative until bids are accepted later this winter, are:

--$1.5 million to strip away two layers to the decking and replace aging, buckling/splitting sections of roofs at Westside Elementary School, Meyer Middle School and Greenwood Elementary.

--$220,000 for foundation repairs at Meyer Middle School, on the north side where water leakage is heavy in locker rooms, and at Greenwood Elementary School, where leakage occurs where new boilers have been installed.

--$60,000 to install “panic buttons” at each school’s front office to handle emergencies. When a button is activated, the system signals an alarm company, a 911 call goes out and the school automatically enters lockdown mode.

Aside from nearly $1.2 million in unspent referendum money, the school board approved using two other sources to cover the estimated $1.8-million for maintenance/security projects:

--Use the remaining $230,000 from the district’s $300,000 annual maintenance budget.

--Take $460,000 from the district’s “Fund Balance.” The latter is like a rainy day fund, but it’s also used to meet various expenses, including payroll.

For more on this story, please see the Nov. 21 print edition of the River Falls Journal.