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home : news : news Friday, April 29, 2016

10/3/2012 Email this articlePrint this article 
Northeast board awards architect contract to Modern Design

By Jeremy Huss
Staff writer

Officials in the Northeast Community School District won't know until next year if the district is ready to move forward with a proposed $6 million gym and classroom addition, but if the project is approved, it will be designed by the same firm that designed and built the district's new fine arts auditorium, Modern Design of Janesville.

Northeast School Board members Chuck Corr, Andy Friedrichsen, Rich Krogmann and Mark Neblung agreed Thursday, Sept. 27, to award the architectural contract to Modern Design for $8,900, for preparation of phase I design documents.

Board member Bill Costello was absent.

The Northeast board originally interviewed four architectural firms for the project and narrowed the options to two before deciding on Modern Design.

The other firm in the final running was Shive Hattery of Cedar Rapids, which bid $12,000.

The major point of discussion for board members was whether to use a construction manager for the project or to allow the general contractor to handle construction management.

All firms agreed to use a construction manager if requested, but Shive Hattery officials indicated a preference to avoid a construction manager.

Superintendent Jim Cox said a construction manager would increase the upfront construction costs but would give the district greater control in limiting change orders. Avoiding a construction manager would eliminate the upfront cost but could increase costs in the long run as a result of change orders.

Ultimately, board members agreed they were comfortable working with Modern Design because the firm developed an understanding of district preferences during the auditorium project.

The phase I construction work entails preparing preliminary design documents and assisting with an informational campaign for a bond issue vote that will be required for the project to proceed.

Cox previously outlined a vision that includes construction of a 1,500-2,000-seat gym, a new fitness center, three specially-equipped science rooms, new administrative offices and renovation of two high school classrooms.

He said Thursday project bids also will include an alternate to replace a two-inch water line at the football field with a four-inch line.

The $8,900 fee from Modern Design will cover all the work associated with phase I. The estimated cost of additional architectural work for future phases, based on a $6 million project cost, is $330,000, or 5.5 percent.

Cox said Northeast will negotiate that price if the project gains voter approval. The proposal likely will be brought to a vote in 2013.

Technology update

Principals and teachers are happy with the rollout of the district's 1:1 computer initiative despite experiencing connectivity issues with its wireless Internet service, assistant secondary school principal Phil Bormann reported.

Bormann said the district has purchased site licenses for the English and social studies classes for the website , which provides a plagiarism analysis and peer-review service.

"I'm really happy with the rollout of that," Bormann said.

The district also has set up a morning computer lab available weekdays at 7:30 a.m. and has placed extra laptops on a cart in the library available for checkout.

Teachers are focusing on ways to use technology in "content specific ways," Bormann said, such as a foods class establishing a blog where it can post information and pictures to show the sequences used in preparing a particular meal.

However, "We are coming into some snags here and there," Bormann said.

The district has experienced Internet connectivity and computer efficiency problems, he said.

Bormann said computers seem to be running faster after one unnecessary program was removed and tests were in progress to determine if a web content filter mandated by the AEA is responsible for slowing the computers.

Northeast received permission from the parents of 10 students to remove the filter to see if doing so improves computer speed.

Bormann said the mandatory filter program is outdated, but the problem may be resolved with the expected release of an updated version this fall.

Connectivity issues are believed to be due to what Bormann described as a scrambling of IP addresses causing some computers to connect to the Internet using the wireless system at the elementary rather than the high school.

Bormann said laptops are getting lots of use in the classroom, even among teachers who are late adopters of technology.

"The attitude is, we love the access we have. We can do more with our kids."

Bormann said the district was wise to rollout the laptop program to just juniors and seniors in order to work out bugs before expanding the 1:1 initiative to lower grade levels.

"I'm not going to say it's going fantastic and is all smiles, but it's going well," Bormann said.

Board officers elected

Corr remains president of the Northeast board and Neblung will continue as vice president following the board's annual organizational meeting.

Corr and Neblung were sworn in to the offices following a unanimous vote of the board.

Tina Bartels was appointed board secretary/treasurer, with a bond of $1 million.

Bret Nitschke of the Lynch Dallas Law Firm of Cedar Rapids was appointed legal counsel.

Gateway State Bank was named the district's bank depository, with a fund limit of $6 million.

Other business

In other business, the board:

•Approved the membership list for the school-to-work advisory council.

•Approved a request to the school budget review committee for additional spending authority of $18,267.22 due to a special education fund deficit.

•Approved an agreement with Rock Valley Physical Therapy for athletic trainer services at a cost of $75 per event for up to four hours of coverage for home football games.

•Approved a request for the Northeast FFA to attend the 2012 National FFA Leadership Convention in Indianapolis Oct. 24-26.

•Approved a request for three or four senior government students to attend the Iowa Youth Symposium in Des Moines Oct. 23-24.

•Approved an early graduation request for McKenzee Bowman, contingent upon successful completion of all requirements.

•Accepted the resignations of Kyle Miller as varsity baseball coach and Adam Lemke as boys soccer coach.

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