BOLD starts over in addressing school facilities needs, dissolves consulting agreement

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Sep. 23—OLIVIA — BOLD School Board members ended the district's relationship with ICS Consulting as they take a new look at addressing facility needs.

The board at its meeting Monday unanimously approved a recommendation from its facilities committee to dissolve the consulting agreement with ICS.

Superintendent Jim Menton said there had been discussions with ICS about the possible end of the relationship. He said the company's representatives understand the school's desire to end the relationship and start anew.

"They understand. They get it," Menton said.

ICS Consulting assisted the district in a multi-year process that included examining the district's facilities needs, hosting meetings of a board-appointed citizens committee, and bringing a $62.6 million bond issue to voters in the district that serves the communities of Bird Island, Lake Lillian and Olivia. Voters in a February referendum soundly rejected proposals to develop a 149,000-square-foot school for prekindergarten through 12th grade on the campus of the Olivia Hospital.

The district's facilities committee includes school administrators and board members Brian Boen, Jamie Bohlin and Theresa Jacobs. Along with recommending the end of the relationship with ICS, the members listed questions for board members to identify what they want in the search for a new consultant.

At Monday's school board meeting, Jacobs urged her colleagues to consider funding repairs to the roof for the large gym at the Bird Island school facilities. The district had previously budgeted for the roof repair, but the item was removed from the list after the district closed the elementary school in Bird Island.

While there are many decisions yet to be made, Jacobs noted that the gymnasium is certain to figure in future plans for the district or community. "We'll need that gym regardless of where we go," Jacobs said.

In a separate but related matter, school board members also approved a revised memorandum of understanding with the Chalkboard Collective in Bird Island. The citizens organization is working to repurpose the Bird Island facilities.

The revised agreement includes a commitment by the school district to maintain ownership of the large gymnasium, as well as continue short-term preservation of the overall school facilities.

The revised agreement also includes a commitment by the school district to contribute $1 million toward a project to repurpose the facilities. The pledge of funding will assist the Chalkboard Collective in its efforts to obtain grant funds.

The citizens group is looking at a variety of uses for the facilities. One includes adding locker rooms and improving the large gymnasium for use as a community events center. The recent closures of Athmann's restaurant and the Bird Island Ballroom represent a significant loss in community meeting space for the community.

The organization is also looking at the possibility of adapting space in the facilities to offer room for entrepreneurial activities, fitness and wellness, and the Bird Island Cultural Centre. Rural Computer Consulting has expressed interest in the possibility of office space as well.

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