The second time around was the charm for the Blue Earth Area School Board.
At least when it came to opening bids for the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) project at the BEA Middle and Elementary school buildings.
Earlier bids were deemed too high by the board and all were rejected.
This time one came in below engineer's estimates and was accepted.
Rochon Corporation of Plymouth's bid was approved by the board at their meeting last Tuesday night. It was one of five received.
Their base bid was $5.721 million. However, $33,000 for roof access ladders and replacing electrical panels was removed, as was $288,000 if alternate construction dates are used.
That brought the bid down to $5.4 million below the budgeted $5.595 million.
The alternate construction date in the bid means the project will be done in one year instead of two, and will begin this January, during the school year.
"The project will still have a minimal impact on the school staff and students," BEA superintendent Evan Gough says. "The contractor is eager to start the project right away and have work throughout the winter and spring months."
The original plan was to do the project over two summers. But, that was one of the reasons the original bids were much higher.
Gough also says it may be possible to still do the roof ladders and electrical panels later, using other funds.
"Actually, they would fit into the project budget now," the superintendent says. "But the engineer is concerned that it leaves us little 'wiggle room' and wants to leave it out at this time."
One item was still an issue, however.
The project will need to have $125,000 in asbestos abatement done during the construction. "If we put the $125,000 into our Health and Safety budget, as we planned, it will increase the school tax levy by 6.5 percent," Gough told the board. "If we remove it from the budget and put it into the project costs, the levy would actually be lower by minus .85 percent."
Gough admitted that it was surprising that a relative minor amount of $125,000 in the school's multi-million dollar budget could have such an impact on the levy, but it does.
The board decided to shift the cost to the project and unanimously accepted the Rochon bid as presented.
One board member, Jesse Hough, suggested that the board still increase the tax levy and use the increase for funding technology purchases needed for the school.
"We have talked about needing advances in technology," Hough said. "We can't do that if we cut the levy."
The levy and the budget are scheduled to be approved in December.
In other business at Tuesday's meeting, the board:
approved the winter coaches assignments which include appointing Randy Kuechenmeister as head boys basketball coach, replacing Gary Holmseth who retired from the position last year.
heard a report from Holmseth about using technology in his accounting class.
Holmseth is using the flipped classroom technique of having students watch class videos at home, and do homework in school
He also has split his first block class so that some students are in the classroom for half the time and go to band or choir the other half.
passed two resolutions dealing with canvassing and certifying the election results.
heard reports from all the principals including Al Cue who reported on his study of students sent to the principal's office in the middle school.
"We have 91 percent of students who are never sent to the office," he said. "And 4 percent have only been in once. I am working on a plan to deal with those 5 percent of kids who are repeats."