Weather Forecast


‘Major leak’ at Middle School to be fixed with $23K bid

The Mitchell School District managed to save money and avoid a flooding disaster simultaneously.

The Mitchell Board of Education avoided making an emergency declaration to approve a quote on repairs for the hot water system at the Mitchell Middle School during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday night at the Mitchell High School.

The domestic hot water system at the Mitchell Middle School “sprung a fairly major leak” and had the potential to suffer a complete collapse, which could result in a loss of hot water and a flooded boiler room.

The normal process for making repairs that exceed $25,000 in school facilities requires the district to issue advertised specifications, wait a certain length of time for the submission of bids and then approve the lowest bid which meets all specifications.

But luckily for the board, one of the bids came in below the statutory figure at approximately $23,974, according to Superintendent Joe Graves, which allowed for him to handle the problem administratively.

The bid, submitted by Mitchell Plumbing & Heating, was approved and all the orders have been placed in order to stop the leak. The cause of the leak, according to Graves, was simply old age of the facility.

“It’s been on our schedule to do some repairs on and we probably waited a little too long,” Graves said.

Because the bid came under the $25,000 mark, the Mitchell Board of Education removed the item from its budget Monday night.

Graves said to avoid other situations similar to the leak at the Mitchell Middle School, the district completes an analysis of each of the building’s system every year. The district also sets aside money in a capital outlay fund and contingency fund each year for this particular reason, Graves said.

“You never know when one of (the systems) isn’t going to perform the way you thought it was,” Graves said. “... In the end this didn’t cause any really problems, but it certainly could have.”


As part of a consent agenda that includes board minutes, claims and open enrollment, the board approved the following personnel items:

  • New hires (classified): Linnea Cooper, paraeducator at Mitchell High School, compensation of $12 per hour for seven hours each day, effective Dec. 22, 2016; Katie Buschbach, paraeducator at MHS, compensation of $14 per day for seven hours each day, effective Dec. 14, 2016.

  • Mitchell Technical Institute new hires: Greg Von Wald, South Dakota Leadership Academy (SDLA) adjunct instructor, compensation of $50 per hour for 120 hours for total of $6,000, effective spring 2017; Joseph Thornell, SDLA adjunct instructor, compensation of $50 per hour for 120 hours for total of $6,000, effective spring 2017; Jason Jennings, power sports adjunct instructor, compensation of $50 per hour for 96 hours for total of $4,800, effective spring 2017.

    Other business

    In other regular business, the board:

    • Approved the K-14 audit report for 2015-16 fiscal year following a presentation by Jay Tolsma, of ELO. Within the presentation, Tolsma spoke on the financial condition of the district.

    • Approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Associated School Boards of South Dakota Protective Trust, South Dakota School District Benefits Fund, to continue participation in the health insurance program and provide for the retirement of fund deficit. The trust is in a deficit situation and the governing board of the trust has created a plan for retirement of the deficit. Through this MOU, the Mitchell School District will pay off its portion of the debt, $1,375,360, over the next four years through premium increases in addition to those necessary to meet the normal expense increases in the health insurance program.

    • Approved the revised Mitchell Technical Institute's board policies 747, 1035 and 1037 on second reading. The policies related to the school’s drug and alcohol policies, in which MTI began looking at in October. The policies were first brought to the Mitchell Board of Education in November. Policy No. 1037 will be eliminated altogether, since it is similar to policy No. 1035, which will now be the drug and alcohol policy for all students. Policy No. 747 is identical to policy No. 1037, the board book states, except the language pertaining to employees. MTI would like to remove the language tying the policy to the S.D. Department of Transportation and the references to students.

    • Entered into executive session for the annual evaluation of the superintendent of schools. The purpose is “discussing the qualifications, competence, performance, character or fitness of any public officer or employee or prospective public officer of employee.”

    • Offered a new three-year contract to Joe Graves, as the Mitchell School District’s superintendent. It has been the Mitchell Board of Education’s tradition to make a decision on the superintendent’s contract extension following the evaluation conference. The board book states this is typically done without consideration of compensation, a decision made later when administration compensation is determined in the spring.

    • Heard a superintendent’s report, board members’ report and public commentary.

    • Toured the Mitchell High School.