Construction in sight at St. Joseph schools

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — Nearly $600,000 in renovations and construction projects were approved by St. Joseph school board members Monday night.

Among the project bids accepted by the school board included the reconstruction of the high school tennis court, the renovation of the football field at Dickinson Stadium, and resurfacing of the high school and Upton Middle School athletic tracks.

Superintendent Ann Cardon said the plan is to have work done on all these construction projects by August – before the next school year begins.

In each case, the lowest bidder was chosen for the project. Kathy Hamilton, chief financial officer for the school district, said each project will be paid for from the building and site fund.

“We wanted to be ready to roll these items out as soon as the kids are out the door, because they (the projects) can take awhile,” Cardon said.

For the high school tennis court reconstruction project, the district agreed to pay $398,687 to Rieth-Riley Construction Co. – a Goshen, Ind.-based company that has a Benton Harbor office.

Cardon, who referred to the tennis court reconstruction as “long overdue,” said the last time the tennis court had this much work done was 13 years ago.

“This needs to be done,” Cardon said. “We’ve been sealing and filling in the cracks as much as we could. We’re actually meeting with (the company) on Wednesday.”

Dynamic Sports Construction, based in Texas, will be paid $146,894 to resurface the athletic tracks at the high school and middle school.

The board also accepted the bid of $46,764 from Turf Services, Inc., based in Spring Lake, for turf surfacing of the high school football field.

Cardon said the plan will be to remove the top 6 inches of grass and begin reseeding. This project is also why the high school graduation ceremony is being moved to the Shadowland pavilion this year near Silver Beach.

Other items

The board discussed the district’s building and site project list, which lays out potential projects through 2020. Cardon said each project on the list will still have to be brought to the board for final approval.

Taking into account the two preventative maintenance contracts – for the high school and middle school – along with the purchase of 250 MacBook Air computers for incoming sixth grade students, the school board approved more than $887,000 on Monday.

The three-year preventative maintenance contracts was a way for the district to ensure the district’s equipment is ready to go and is up to date, Cardon said. In the high school alone, Cardon said there are about 60 pieces of equipment to look after.

The board also approved a budget amendment for the 2016-17 school year. This was the second amendment made this year, after the board amended its general fund in December.

With increasing revenue, Hamilton proposed a resolution to amend not only the general fund, but the food service fund, building and site fund, debt retirement fund and the 2016 capital projects fund.

The next St. Joseph school board meeting is at 6 p.m. on April 17, which will be held at the Brown Elementary School Media Center.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 7, 2017)

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