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Renovation plans stalled at special ed offices

Staff writer

Plans for renovation and use of the east wing of the Marion County Special Education Cooperative offices in Marion were a primary topic of discussion Monday at the MCSEC Board meeting.

MCSEC Director David Sheppard told the board that required environmental testing by Jantzen Construction had not been done.

“They haven’t started sampling yet on the east wing, which kind of surprised me, because I thought we approved that,” Sheppard said.

“I have asked a couple of other people about making bids, but that has fallen through,” Sheppard said.

“Is there a hangup at this point with getting the asbestos testing done? Do we have more than one option for somebody to do that testing?” board member Lyle Leppke asked.

“As far as I know we have just one option, because they are contracting that out,” Sheppard replied.

Two options for the wing are still open to MCSEC. One would require removal of a section of the wing, while the other would preserve the existing structure. With either option, extensive renovation of the building heating and air conditioning systems is a priority. Sheppard said the existing fire system will be kept.

Sheppard then challenged the board to consider future needs relative to the facility. He said the increasing numbers of children diagnosed with autism and changes in educational practice could be addressed by using the east wing space.

“I don’t see an immediate need, but what if there is a need to expand the CLASS or OASIS programs?” Sheppard asked. “Now is a time we ought to be considering that.”

Technology coordinator Dwayne Abrahams talked about the problems with the wing.

“Why have we been so insistent or even considering tearing it down? We have been extremely frustrated by three years in a row of water leaks and damage,” Abrahams said.

“If we look at the source of that every one of those has to do with the boiler/chiller system that we’re looking at replacing,” Abrahams said.

“It’s space that’s already there, we’d be getting rid of the asbestos, so at that point it would be a cleaner place to remodel as we need it,” Abrahams concluded.

“The structure itself is solid, it’s worth a lot in itself. If the structure is sound and viable it sounds like a good option to try to keep it. It costs a lot to tear it off,” board member Mark Heiser said.

“I think it all comes back to the asbestos,” board president Deb Geis said.

“Part of the idea to remove it is to eliminate the added cost of the heating system for that space that right now we haven’t had a use for. The bills we’ve seen for heating and cooling over there have been significant,” Leppke said.

“I’m glad you brought it up. Before we destroy that wing we should certainly know we don’t have use for it vs. the cost of keeping it until we do have,” Leppke said.

The board took no action relative to the facility discussion.

In other business:

  • The board accepted resignations from Hillsboro Elementary School paraprofessional Shelly Schale, and school psychologist Tammie Svitak. The board approved retirement requests from early childhood teacher Debbi Darrow and speech-language pathologist Paula Barta.
  • The part-time contract for Dwayne Abrahams, technology coordinator, was modified to increase the number of paid summer days to 27, while continuing one hour per day release during the regular year. His compensation was increased from $14,000 to $16,120.
  • A half-time teaching position for Marion High School/Marion Middle School was approved.
  • The board approved a 10-hour-day, 4-day summer work schedule for the coop through July 31.
  • An annual software maintenance contract with Management Advisory Computer Systems for $3,325 was approved.

Last modified May 23, 2012

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