School Board approves design-phase for Sibley Expansion

Northfield School Board Ellen Iverson and Anne Maple  Jeff Quinnell

As I reported (via a comment and a Tweet), the Northfield School Board met in special session last night and approved Supt. Chris Richardson’s revised recommendation (two-page PDF) for a design phase for the Sibley Expansion.  The vote was 5-1. Katy Hargis voted no but didn’t explain why. Mike Berthelsen was absent, evidently in a snowbank!

Here’s Richardson’s summary paragraph at the end of his recommendation:

richardson rec sshotThe administration recommends the approval of the design phase of the Sibley Addition project to include submitting the project to the State for review and comment, engaging architectural and engineering professionals to design the addition and remodeling project, and completing construction documents and project bid specifications.

I captured the initial audio of the meeting: open mic (I spoke, plus the three incoming school board members), followed by Richardson.

Click play to listen.

0:30 Griff Wigley
3:55 Ellen Iverson
4:30 Anne Maple
6:10 Jeff Quinnell
7:10-20:45 Chris Richardson

I’m pleased with the decision, as proceeding with the just the design phase now allows the ‘new’ board to see what happens at the Legislature with K-12 funding and with the Federal stimulus package for infrastructure projects. If things look rosy in the spring, they’ll be ready to pull the trigger on construction so that the expansion opens in the fall of 2010.  If things look ugly, they’ll be able to call a temporary halt to the expansion till the economy improves.


  1. Griff Wigley said:

    Did I miss something? Something big? In today’s Nfld News: Design team presents Sibley plans.

    Bidding on the expansion project, which adds a new classroom wing to the school, and significantly remodels portions of the existing school facility, will begin in June, according to construction consultant Gary Benson.

    The article makes it sound likes construction will be proceeding. Nothing about the legislature, nothing about the stimulus money.  Last Dec. Chris Richardson’s recommendation included this:

    This recommendation provides the school district with the greatest flexibility to take advantage of the federal stimulus funding if available and if not gives us a few more months to gauge the economic situation without eliminating the opportunity to complete construction and remodeling for the 2010-11 school year.

    April 15, 2009
  2. Kathleen Vondrasek said:


    While I have not watched the School Board meeting, I did attend Sibley’s PTO meeting last night where Scott Sannes showed the plans for the addition and the impact to the school grounds for next year should this go forward.

    First of all, the Board has not yet approved the addition. It will likely be voted on during one of the upcoming meetings in May.

    According to Scott, the stimulus monies for facilities improvements “came and went”. However, apparently the District will be receiving a one-time amount of $400K+ for Special Education from the stimulus package. Per the ground rules, those dollars can be used to modify/upgrade facilities intended for Spec Ed purposes. The District is looking to use roughly half of those dollars for the portion of the existing building that will be modified; not for the new wing.

    Overall, I think that the plan was well thought out and addressed many issues within the building. If this is the only viable approach to fix the overcrowding issues at all of the elementary buildings, it appears to be a good plan.

    For Sibley students, the biggest issue of the project is the fact that most of the current playground area, including the newly installed swings, current playground equipment and blacktop area, will not be usable for the 2009-10 school year. Essentially the entire area north of the existing wing and west of the main building will be roped off for the construction.

    If the project does go forward, a decision will need to be made of whether or not the new playground equipment that Sibley’s walk-a-thon funded (Julie Pritchard, Sibley PTO President, indicated that we have received the equipment) should be installed this summer as originally planned. Long term, it would be ideal for the playground to be located near the new swings, however, that would mean delaying the installation for a year and leaving the students without playground equipment for the 2009-10 school year. This issue is in its infancy and will need to be further vetted out.

    April 15, 2009

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