GrCo school board okays Coke contract, HS renovation bids, budget, and more

Ram fans will be drinking Coca-Cola products, not Pepsi products, at school events soon. The Greene County school board at its regular meeting March 11 okayed a 5-year contract with Atlantic Bottling Company that includes $2,000 a year from the company to the Greene County Schools, as well as rebates on products, delivery to concession stands and vending machine service. The school will sell Coca-Cola products exclusively.

According to Greene County activities directors Todd Gordon, the contract with Pepsi expired a few years ago.

The board also approved the seventh change order for construction on the career academy and new high school. The larger part of the $10,689 change order is for the grilles for the bleachers in the gymnasium.

The project is still under the original contract cost of $31,223,000. This change order brings contract cost to $31,090,782. “We’re by far not even close to spending too much on change orders,” board member John McConnell said. “It’s extraordinary to have so little in change orders on a $35 million project.”

The meeting opened with three public hearings. The first was to consider and approve a bid on the repurposing of the current high school to a middle school. Henkel Construction, the contractor on the new high school, submitted the only bid, a base bid of $4,099,000. Alternates included in the bid document (administrative/district office, new boilers, and a sidewalk/canopy at the gymnasium, were higher than expected. Options to reduce those costs will be discussed.

The second public hearing was on the 2020-21 certified budget. The budget as proposed in February, with a levy rate of $14.66 (per $1,000 taxable valuation), was approved after no one spoke at the hearing.

The third public hearing was on the calendar for 2020-21. No comments were voiced and the calendar was approved as presented last month. There will be no Wednesday early-outs. After the public hearing was closed a teacher asked in the early-outs would be reinstated in 2021-22. Superintendent Tim Christensen said discussion of that is ongoing.

The board approved the purchase of two scanners to read ticket information from event tickets purchased online through HomeTown Ticketing. Individual and reserved tickets can be purchased before the event using a debit card. There is no cost to the district in using HomeTown Ticketing, although there will be a surcharge paid by the ticket purchaser.

“We live in a digital society and providing this option to our community is another way we can help to provide a positive experience for them,” Gordon said.

The board tabled for a second time an agreement with Earth Works for real time weather tracking at the school’s athletic fields. The system would sound an alert when lighting came within a prescribed distance. AD Gordon said it would provide greater safety for athletes and fans by providing officials, whose job it is to stop a game because of lightning, information that couldn’t be ignored.

Board member McConnell said he is concerned about the budget and “spending $3,200 for something the official is supposed to do.” Gordon countered that coaches would have an Earth Works app on their mobile phone that would alert them during practices. That would be particularly beneficial to cross country runners.

When asked about the warning siren, Gordon said it would be audible within a 500-yard range and would sound for 30 minutes.

The price quote was for the company’s top tier service. Board president Steve Fisher asked Gordon for price information on lower tiers and the matter was tabled.

Later during the meeting, after Gordon did some online research, he corrected himself about the sirens. He said they sound twice – once to initiate the warning and again as an all-clear. He also said that the top tier provides more “seats,” or more downloads of the Earth Works app so school transportation and administrators could use the weather radar feature.

The board approved the purchase of $92,298 in computer networking equipment for the elementary, middle school and high school. The district will be reimbursed for $51,578 of that amount through the Federal Communications Commission’s Schools and Libraries program is funded by taxes on communications services and is intended to assist schools and libraries in obtaining affordable telecommunications and internet access.

The board approved a contract to rent a portion of the Grand Junction Community Center for the summer school lunch program at a cost of $1,500.

Kyle Stalder addressed the board about the future of the middle school gymnasium during the open forum. The most talked-about plan for the current middle school is to renovate it into condominiums. In order for the project to qualify for historic tax credits, the gymnasium would need to be razed.

Stalder asked the board to consider what facilities are available aside from the gymnasium, and mentioned the Greene County Community Center and the Field House. The community center gym floor isn’t meant for basketball, Stalder said, and the Field House is over-used. “I’ve never heard a school district say ‘we have too many gymnasiums.’…. We have a great gym there, and I’d hate to see it just given away.”

Stalder suggested pooling the money now spent to use the community center and the Field House into heating and insuring the middle school gym.

Superintendent Christensen said during his report an hour later that a community meeting is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, at 6:30 pm at the middle school synergistics lab to talk about the future of the gym. Developer Nate Adams will present information about his plans, and Gordon will present information about the district’s gymnasium needs.

“People need to know the ultimate decision is a school board decision. We’ll go through all of that,” Christensen said.

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