School facilities task force tours second set of buildings

Jeff Davis and Mike Kopietz of the District 831 buildings and grounds department explain the building needs to members of the facilities task force.

Five school district buildings were subjected to scrutiny Saturday, Dec. 1, when the District 831 facilities task force conducted Day 2 of its investigation into buildings and grounds.

The purpose of the 59-member task force is to recommend repairs and improvements to the school board.

The data-gathering process includes three Saturdays spent visiting schools, athletic fields, and service buildings.

The itinerary on Dec. 1
began with the S.T.E.P. building at 467 W. Broadway Ave., used to help adult-age students with disabilities learn vocational and home-living skills.

The second building on the tour was the Central Learning Center, home to the district’s Central Montessori Elementary school and Alternative Learning Center, with offices for Early Childhood Family Education, Adult Basic Education, and Community Education.

To get onto the roof of the building, Forest Lake Fire Chief Gary Sigfrinius (a member of the task force) used an aerial platform to lift four to five task force members at a time, and then brought them down again after the roof inspection.

Sigfrinius donated his time, and he said the city of Forest Lake paid for the two or three gallons of fuel used.

The tour also included Forest View Elementary and Century Junior High, and the maintenance building/warehouse on SW Fourth Street.

Maintenance Building

Before the FLAAA Sports Center was built next to the airport, the Maroon and Gold Arena, located south of Forest View Elementary, was the district’s ice hockey and figure skating rink.

Now the building is used for maintenance, replacing the structure west of the CLC and freeing up needed parking space there. The tour was led by Mike Kopietz and Jeff Davis from the school district’s buildings and grounds department.

When the building was transformed from an ice arena to a maintenance building three years ago, Kopietz said, some remodeling was done to create office and meeting space.

Now the workers would benefit from air conditioning in the break room area, because the building gets very hot in the summer. The forced air heating system could be used to also provide cooling.

The south wall, where equipment is maintained and repaired, needs better heat and lighting, more electrical outlets, a hoist and air compressor fittings.

Kopietz and Davis said the existing lighting was adequate for an ice arena because the white ice reflected the light, but now the 24 1,000-watt lamps, which use a lot of power, leave some areas shadowy and dark.

New lighting would be more efficient and cost effective.

One ceiling-mounted radiant heat unit hangs on the north side, where the bleachers were.  Now that unit provides heat for the whole maintenance and storage space. “In the winter, when it’s cold and windy, that unit works very hard to warm this space,” Kopietz said.

The greatest need is for a second unit on the south side, where shop work using metal wrenches can be especially uncomfortable on cold days.

Adding more infrared heaters would be most efficient, Kopietz said, because the concrete floor and the equipment would absorb heat.

The east end now stores paper and supplies, and the north side houses a large steel-fenced cage for secure storage. Ice melt is also stored in the building.

More storage racks for pallets and commercial shelving for tools are on the needs list, as are a permanent loading ramp, equipment wash pad, and salt/sand shelter.

Kopietz said the drainage problem at the site has been corrected with drain tile work and sump pumps hard-plumbed to the nearby wetland. “We think we have a really good handle on it,” he said, even though the building sits on low ground and has a sizeable roof.

Task Force Schedule

The first Saturday tour, on Oct. 27, covered the bus garage, the athletic fields and district office, and three elementary schools: Columbus, Wyoming, and Linwood.

For the final tour, on Oct. 8, the task force will visit the high school, Southwest Junior High, and the remaining three elementary schools: Lino Lakes, Forest Lake, and Scandia.

After the study is complete, the school district will hold meetings in the schools guided by the principal and lead custodian of each building.

Task force work began Oct. 15 and is scheduled to continue into 2013. The next evening meeting will be Dec. 10, after the third tour, and another meeting is set for Jan. 14.

The last gap analysis, in 2009, uncovered needs totaling $100 million.