Mitchell Middle School library project gets green lightBidding process to start for renovation of key room at MMS.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
The Mitchell Board of Education gave local architect Brad Ciavarella the green light Monday to get bids for a $210,686 facelift of the middle school library.
The new plan will add some pizazz to an important space that has become dull and cluttered through the years, he said during a meeting in the space.
Ciavarella, principal of Ciavarella Design, said it was essential to get moving quickly in order to have the project ready for students by next fall. The bid-letting process — from advertising, until bids are secured — will take about a month, he estimated.
Ciavarella said he and his staff attempted to see the library space with students’ eyes when they created their design.
“We’re considering the school as a whole and this is the center of the school,” said Ciavarella in his introduction to a plan that will add 860 square feet of student-usable space to the current 2,065 square-foot main floor.
The changes will bring more light to the interior, add openness and color and make the space more welcoming to students.
Existing upper windows in the room’s north wall — which are now hidden — will become visible with the new plan and another $11,000 option could add windows, and more light to the room’s upper south wall. Middle School Principal Brad Berens wasn’t certain the project could sustain an $11,000 bump.
The plan will remove physical and visual barriers that make the current library space unappealing, Ciavarella said. In addition to removing clutter, the renovation will remove a staircase and a portion of a mezzanine floor in the library’s southwest corner, replacing it with a glass wall that will open the library’s interior to students passing in an adjoining corridor.
The remaining mezzanine balcony will be used by the district’s computer technicians.
Bookcases will be moved off the main floor and placed into wall mounted bookcases.
Existing computer stations will be removed, as students now have laptops or iPads, and wireless accessibility will assure connectivity throughout the library.
The plan will remove office space under the mezzanine balcony. District Business Manager Steve Culhane, whose offices are under the mezzanine, will move his offices to the new Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy across from the high school.
Ciavarella said the middle school was built 40 years ago and the space needs updating.
“We’re trying to accomplish a lot with very little, but there’s a lot here to work with,” he said.
The additional space gained by removing old offices allows space for the creation of “zones” for varied student uses such as reading and study. New carpet, paint and inexpensive architectural detailing will add color and visual interest.
Ciavarella estimated the construction changes will cost about $165,725 and the remaining project balance of about $45,000 will be covered by using district maintenance workers for jobs such as demolition, painting and cabinet installation.
In other business, Jonathan Guenthner, a certified public accountant with ELO of Mitchell, gave the district a thumbs-up for the fiscal year that ended in June 2012.
Guenthner, in presenting the draft audit report, said auditors found no deficiencies that might be considered material weaknesses in internal controls, procedures or compliance with federal regulations. The audit will be submitted to the state after some minor tweaks and updates, he said.
“Overall, the district is in pretty good financial health,” he said.
Graves commended Business Manager Steve Culhane and Mitchell Technical Institute CFO Mike Hoffman for the quality of their financial management expertise.
The board also:
Approved the school calendar for the 2013-2014 school year. The new calendar reflects a 176-daylong school year. That’s the same length as the previous five calendars, said Superintendent Joe Graves. There was good news for the vacation-minded.
“Christmas falls on a Wednesday during the next school year, which precludes anything but a full twoweek break,” he said.
Any snow days needed beyond the two days allocated would have to be added to the end of the school year. Graves also noted that the district has used both its snow days for the current year, and any other days off for inclement weather must be made up.
Graves said the district plans to poll parents next fall to get input for the 2014-2015 calendar.
Graves said school security procedures have been updated and reviewed by representatives from the Mitchell Police Division. “Law enforcement is very comfortable with the changes we’ve made,” he said.
The district is now exploring possible physical changes to buildings to improve security. “There are many proposals coming forward, but we’re trying to make sure that what we do, facility-wise, is supported by the evidence, and experts from law enforcement. Once the changes are identified the district will apply for grant funds to help pay for any security changes,” Graves said.
“I think we have exceptional protection in Mitchell,” he said, with a nod to Mitchell law enforcement.
Postponed the superintendent’s report on the status of insurance coverage from the May 5, 2012, hailstorm until the March board meeting.
Approved the following personnel items as part of a consent agenda:
Resignations: Doreen Brands, language arts, Mitchell High School; Catherine Frederickson, part-time elementary art, L.B. Williams Elementary School; Kyra Mentele, elementary vocal music, LBW — all effective at the end of the current school year.
Resignation (extracurricular): Christina Board, ninth grade volleyball coach, pending suitable replacement. Effective at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
Early retirement: Carol Gilman, fourth grade, Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary School, effective at the end of the school year.
New hires: Clayton Gropper, Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy, health science instructor, $41,243, effective Aug. 15, 2013; John Sieverding, director of buildings and grounds, $60,000, effective June 1, 2013; Carl Abts, assistant director of buildings and grounds, $32,500, effective June 1, 2013.
Spring adjunct instructors, Mitchell Technical Institute: Nathan Bowman, instructional media developer, $4,000, effective May 16, 2013; Speech Language Pathology Assistant mentors: Michelle Greseth, Pamela Bonenberger, Kim Cypher, Jennifer Anshutz — all $500 each.