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School board discusses Central Office project

The construction on the Fort Dodge Community School District’s Central Office project at 109 N. 25th St. is right on track, and maybe even a little ahead of schedule, Superintendent Jesse Ulrich said during a special school board meeting on Thursday evening.

The main purpose of the special meeting was for the board to approve the appointments of Rick Pederson as an assistant baseball coach for Fort Dodge Senior High and Molly Hiveley as a human resource administrative assistant for the district. The hires were made after Tuesday’s regular board meeting, and the board wished to approve the hires now rather than wait for the next regularly scheduled meeting in June.

With scheduling the special meeting on Thursday, the district staff decided to take the opportunity to give the Board of Education an update on the progress of the $2.6 million Central Office project.

“Here within the next week or two, we’re going to begin seeing flooring as well as painting,” Ulrich said. “So things are going really, really well.”

The contractor for the project, Woodruff Construction, of Fort Dodge, will have a change of project managers, Ulrich said, but the site superintendent will remain the same, so he does not foresee any “lags or glitches” in the project’s timeline.

However, there will be a significant change order for the project coming to the school board at a later meeting, the superintendent said.

“One change order that will be coming forward will be for about $40,000 to change out the front windows and framing,” Ulrich said.

During this renovation, the contractors found that the windows and framing in the former Hy-Vee building had been replaced when it was vacant, prior to the district purchasing the building, and that the windows installed were what Ulrich called “the lowest grade possible” and are designed to have no ventilation and no way for moisture to get out.

“It’s a bad setup, so rather than leaving it in and having to tear it up down the road, we felt it was wise on behalf of the district to recommend we get that changed now,” Ulrich said.

He added that the tinting on the new windows will also improve energy efficiency for the building.

School board President Stu Cochrane asked about the progress of the former Arey Elementary School renovation project.

Currently, the district’s Central Office is located in the former Arey school. Once the project at 109 N. 25th St. is complete, the Central Office will move there and work on renovating the Arey building at 104 S. 17th St., which will become the district’s Early Childhood Education campus, housing preschool, pre-kindergarten, transitional kindergarten and kindergarten, will start.

The preschool, pre-kindergarten and transitional kindergarten programs are now located at Riverside Early Learning Center, 733 F St. After those programs are relocated, that school will house the district’s CARES and PRIDE programs for students with sigificant mental health issues.

“We are currently in the design phase of the Arey project,” Ulrich said. “The next step will be more detailed, making sure where we want corkboards or whiteboards and make sure the flow of the building is how we like it.”

Ulrich noted that with social distancing due to COVID-19, the design process has been a little slower as the district leaders have only been able to do virtual meetings with the designers. However, he said the project is progressing well.

The next regular FDCSD Board of Education meeting will be at 6 p.m. on June 8.

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