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Consultants outline school construction schedule

Work already started; construction to be in full swing this summer
Lead Summary
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Lori Sorenson

When Luverne School District residents approved a $23 million bond sale for building improvements, it passed on the first try with an overwhelming majority.
While it came as welcome news at the time, it turns out Luverne was an anomaly during 2017 when only 25 percent of bond issues passed in schools across Minnesota.
Of those, most were in the Twin Cities metro districts where farmland isn’t burdened with paying for them, and most had been rejected a time or two before passing on a third or fourth attempt.
“If you look at the list of projects that year, especially in greater Minnesota, you’ll see how lucky you are,” said Greg Abbott of the Minnesota School Boards Association.
Luverne Superintendent Craig Oftedahl celebrated this fact when he addressed the audience at the March 1 LIFT Gala.
He thanked district residents for supporting their school and shared information about the construction project that started with rejected bid packages.
“In the end we’re going to have an unbelievable space and learning environment for students,” Oftedahl said.
Even though the bidding process required plan adjustments, he said the district’s goals have remained the same since 2016 when the School Board approved them.
1. Improve safety and security with the updated entry points and public areas.
2. Provide collaborative learning spaces to accommodate modern learning methods for students.
3. Provide a centralized commons “where people can eat and meet and not be in the basement,” Oftedahl said.
4. Refresh and remodel the 1950s building. “It’s strong, and it has a great backbone, but it’s over 60 years old and it needs an update,” Oftedahl said.
5. Build a new performing arts center to reflect the district’s fine arts priorities. “The people wanted it to happen, and they overwhelmingly supported it,” Oftedahl said referring to the bond referendum.
He introduced Joel Bornhoft, project manager with ICS Consulting who reviewed construction details and the construction timeline.
•Work in the spring of 2019 includes removing the existing auditorium (started March 5), heating system, relocation of utilities (moving a transforming and reconfiguring fiber optic line) construction of the entryway and collaborative learning spaces and second floor chemistry area.
•Work in the summer of 2019 includes band and chorus remodel and heating system (remove existing boiler and put infrastructure in place for fall), cooling system (to make sure in place for April-May 2020) and starting groundwork for the performing arts center and new classrooms footprint.
•Work in January and February 2020 includes the counselor’s suite and new media center.
•Work in summer 2020 includes second floor biology room, remodeling parts of the old high school, new middle school-high school office area, first floor corridor (link) and lockers, district parking lot, kitchen and commons area.
•The project will wrap up in 2021 with completion of the performing arts center.
“I’m feeling pretty good about everything now,” Bornhoft said Tuesday.
“I’m real comfortable with the schedule, and I’m cautiously optimistic that the plan will continue as it’s laid out. The school’s been really good to work with. Allowing us to work while class is in session allows our contractors to stay on task.”