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USC School Board debates over how to mow the lawn

By Staff | Mar 20, 2016

Is the grass always greener? For the United South Central School Board, it seems there was some debate on that topic.

A heated discussion broke out during the conversation of lawn care on the school grounds for the spring and summer.

Director of buildings and grounds, Dan Ehlert, spoke with the board during last week’s regular meeting about the possibility of mowing and fertilizing either in-house, or with contracted out agreements.

With the amount of lawn mowing not only at the new school site, but maintaining the other sites before they are sold, Ehlert said he had come up with a request for proposal (RFP) to figure out costs for both his own grounds workers, equipment, and with that of two outside contracts.

However, the question arose as to whether the comparisons were fair to each other as rates would differentiate between in-house and contracted work.

Board member Kathy Krebsbach mentioned to those in attendance that she would rather see the RFP redone to “compare apples to apples instead of apples to oranges,” and the rest of the board agreed.

They felt there were too many factors tallied into Ehlert’s RFP and also did not want Ehlert to take on extra work that may not need to be on his shoulders. So, their solution was to have the RFP revised by the end of last week.

Board member Tom Legred brought up the fact that if the RFP gets time to be revised, the contractors should also be able to revise their contracts as well. Dr. Jerry Jensen stated that he had only contacted the two companies a few days before the meeting.

“That’s what I’m saying. If we give ourselves time to revise the RFP, we should give these guys time to revise their contracts, accordingly,” said Legred. “If they are putting down a contract for a possible multiple year job, they may want more than a few days.”

The question was then raised if there was a need to have a special meeting, to which the board concluded there would be, though they did not set a specific date.

In other USC School Board news, the board:

Unanimously approved the new superintendent contract for Keith Fleming, who was present at the meeting with his wife, Kelly.

“We are very thrilled to get the opportunity to serve USC as the superintendent. The more I got into the process and learning about USC, I very quickly recognized that this is a great school district with many opportunities for students,” said Fleming. “Throughout the whole process, I felt very comfortable and welcome and that meant a lot to me.”

Harold Remme of South Central Service Cooperative was also in attendance at the meeting and expressed his gratitude to USC.

“We enjoyed the time we spent here. We’ve learned a lot about your school system, and we are very impressed with what we’ve learned. The process was rather involved, and we believe we have a candidate that will serve this district well,” said Remme.

Reviewed and approved the 2015-16 revised General Fund budget as well as reviewed the 2016-17 preliminary General Fund budget and preliminary capital outlay 2016-17 budget.

Approved the purchase of a 77-passenger Thompson brand school bus.

Looked at the remedial instruction programs in the elementary and high school and approved the continuation of all the programs.

Heard from Rita Vondracek about the USC iLearn program and how well it had been going for the school year.

Vondracek reported that things have improved for the better, and because of broadband expansions the school had made.

She also reported that she is exploring more iPad applications that work for inside the classroom, and has been working with teachers on a component that would block access to web browsers, or omit certain websites, for students taking quizzes or tests online.

Heard from Dr. Jensen regarding the school’s old land parcels. Jensen reported that though the results are not completely tabulated, Braun Intertec, who tested the old school site for contaminants, believes MPCA should OK the site.

Jensen also informed the board that the land sale of the athletic field will not be moving forward. The board then took action to void the sale and return the lot to USC’s surplus property.

USC’s next regularly scheduled School Board meeting will be held on April 19 at 5:30 p.m.