Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 19, 2014

School may try to save some ash trees for shade

By DIANE VANCE | Jan 24, 2014

The Fairfield school board heard an update about Fairfield High School’s upcoming renovation and addition project at Monday’s school board meeting and will hold a public hearing and a special meeting about it this Monday.

The district’s public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday at the Administration/Curriculum/Technology Center is a time for the community and board to review architectural plans and specifications to be let for bids.

Following the public hearing Monday, a special school board meeting is planned with representatives from SturXture Architects, Carl A. Nelson & Company hired as project manager, and district administrators presenting information about the plans and construction timeline.

“We’ve held a whirlwind of meetings lately with several entities,” said Fred McElwee at Monday’s board meeting. “We’ve been coordinating between electrical, mechanical, plumbing and construction.”

He said the west side of the high school will need a new electrical service for the planned addition.

“We’ll have 10 bid packages for the high school project,” said McElwee. “The board will need to approve documents for construction and approve sending out for bids.

“Monday’s special meeting will offer information and a time to approve the plans.”

The district intends to send out request for bids Feb. 7; hold a pre-bid meeting for contractors Feb. 20 at the high school, and require bids due March 6.

“The pre-bid meeting at the high school will allow contractors to tour the building if they want,” said McElwee. “A representative from our construction management team and architect will be on hand to talk with, so those bidding can get a scope of the project.”

Superintendent Art Sathoff said at this point, the project is a week behind schedule, but it was OK.

“With so many unknowns in the building, we’ll have change orders, but we’re being as thorough as we can,” said McElwee.

As soon as the bids are approved in March, on-site work on utilities will begin, said Sathoff.

“The admin team has been meeting and planning logistics, so we’re all aware of student safety, parking issues and room changes,” he said.

McElwee said the new west parking lot was completed and in use; the south parking lot is finished except for painting stripes, which will now wait until spring.

“We got caught by cold weather,” he said.

McElwee also talked about the district’s ash trees and the anticipation of dealing with the emerald ash borer, which is present in Jefferson County.

“The district has 78 ash trees on its property,” he said. “We’re in the research stage about what to do, but we’ll probably follow the lead of the city. We may inject a few trees to keep them going a few years longer because they provide shade to buildings. But we haven’t made any decisions yet. We’re looking at various species to replant where ash trees are now.”

McElwee said the ash tree injection treatment is not the pesticide drenching the city has cautioned against using. The high school and Pence Elementary School are two of the school buildings being shaded by ash trees.

Last month, district technology director John Grunwald had presented information and options to the school board about purchasing a new wireless program for the district. He and his department had researched five providers and narrowed the choice to two companies.

“We decided to move forward with the Meraki solution, purchased through Infrastructure Technology Solutions, “ Grunwald said. “As a district, we have worked with them in previous years and I also have worked closely with them in my previous district. They are located in Monticello and have been very responsive and helpful.”

In December, Grunwald told the board Meraki would cost $66,554 for five years. It was the second lowest of the five bids. The lowest bid, Ruckus as $60,646 for five years.

Grunwald had presented each vendor with non-negotiable requirements for a new wireless system: must have public access, must fit the plan to be one-on-one computers with density and coverage, must be able to manage current and future traffic/extra devices, and potential cloud-based solution.

“Meraki is cloud-based, Ruckus would bring equipment here,” Grunwald told the board in December. “Meraki is backed by Sysco. Meraki has four controllers, and if one goes out, the system bypasses and uses another, so cloud-based has a redundancy built-in. Ruckus would need to replace a controller if one went out. Needing to replace a controller would about make up the difference in the two vendors’ purchase prices. Ruckus has a representative in Milwaukee, Wis. Meraki has a service representative an hour and a half away.”

The system was installed the first week in January and is working well, said Grunwald.

Board members and administrators commented on the success and information shared during senior exit interviews conducted in the government class at the end of first semester in December.

Students in the class tell about positive experiences and things that could be improved at the high school with three school board members who volunteer to attend.

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