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Comprehensive Timeline and Supporting Documents for ISD 2154 Eveleth-Gilbert Facilities Planning.
 
1.  Spring/Summer 2012 – The School Board recognizes operation costs are becoming unmanageable.  Much to their surprise, they begin receiving mining royalty dollars as a local taconite plant begins mining on a lease that is on county tax forfeit land.  These mining royalty dollars are one time money that will run out sometime between 2018-2019.  These monies granted the School Board the gift of time so they could take their time on a facilities plan and make the right decision for the future of our students.  To see the full amount the district has collected to date, click here.

2.  Fall 2013 – The School Board hired Roger Worner Associates to conduct a facility study.
he full study can be found by clicking here.
  1. Results of the study were presented in Nov. 2013
  2. Recommendations included demo of unused buildings and consolidating and renovating existing ones to become more efficient
  3. Another recommendation was to start a strategic planning process
3.  Fall 2014 – The School Board commissioned the MN School Boards Association to help them through the strategic planning process. 
The Strategic Plan can be found by clicking this link.
  1.  Community members and district employees met several times over the course of 4 months to identify strengths and weaknesses of the district and chart a plan for improvement.
  2. There were several areas that were identified, and they will be discussed in a different post, but the glaring issue that came out was our operating expenses. 
  3. Fiscal Year 2014 Expenditures is an audited expenditure sheet from MDE.  The statewide average is on top and Eveleth-Gilbert is on the bottom, the Board’s concern was the disparity between the state average of operating costs (7.88% of overall budget) compared to the 15.78% spent by our distict.  To see this sheet click here.
  4. $1881.90 per E-G student - $867.71 per statewide student = $1014.91 x 1029 E-G students (at the time in 2014) = $1,043,601.51 that we are overspending on facilities that we do not need. 
  5. At the same time we are under spending in regular education compared to the state average.
  6. We currently operate 620,384 square feet of space.  The state recommends 225 sq ft for each student which would make our ideal square footage around 225,000 sq ft. 
  7. Saving around a million dollars in operating costs and eliminating unused space became the standard for the Board from this point on.
4.  Jan 2015 – The School Board had UNESCO go through our facilities and make specific recommendations for becoming more efficient. 
A full copy of this report can be found by clicking the following links:

Preliminary Analysis Report Part 1 
Preliminary Analysis Report Part 2
Preliminary Analysis Report Part 3
Preliminary Analysis Report Part 4
Preliminary Analysis Report Part 5
  1.  The UNESCO report confirmed many of the findings of facility inadequacy and overspending on operating costs the Worner report did. 
  2. This report also identified other mechanical areas such as heat and air quality that the Board was not aware of
  3. This report did a nice job of identifying and estimating our need for facilities upgrades.
  4. The recommendations fell short of Board expectations as the most any of their recommendations saved is $178,000 a year.
  5. It became apparent with this report, that there was not going to be a way to leave all 620,384 sq ft of space and achieve the savings the Board needed.

5.  May 2015 – The School Board hired the DSGW firm to study and guide the Board through a facilities reorganization process. 
  1.  Throughout the summer of 2015, DSGW met with various groups of students, staff members, community members and administration to gather information about each groups thoughts on our school system and facilities.
  2. From those meetings, a list of Guiding Principles was developed that was to be used in all future decisions.
  3. A copy of the Guiding Principles can be found here.

6.  July 2015 – DSGW presented an outline of their plan and reasons for that direction to the Board 
A full copy of this presentation can be found here.

7.  December 2015 – Throughout the fall of 2015, DSGW continued to interview various groups to gather information.  In December they presented their case for why the district needs to cut operating costs. 
A full copy of this presentation can be found by clicking here.
  1.  Following this presentation, the Board was reassured there would be no way of continuing to operate all 620,384 sq ft of space as was first brought up in the Worner study and then in the UNESCO report.
  2. The Board asked DSGW to start drawing some conceptual options of what a reduced space may look like and present potential operational savings.
 
8.  January 2016 – DSGW presented 4 conceptual options for how a reconfigured campus may look like. 
A copy of these drawings can be found  here.
  1.  The options presented included:
  • Option 1 – A New School at a site not determined
  • Option 2 – Remodeled PK-12 on the Eveleth Campus
  • Option 3 – Remodeled PK-12 on the Gilbert Campus
  • Option 4 – Keep existing organization, just remodel and demo parts not needed.
  1.  All of these options were very expensive in the 40-65 million dollar range.
  2. Option 3 did not have enough land available for it to even be possible
  3. The only two that came close to producing the needed amount of operational savings were 1 & 2, however being over 50 million each, the Board did not feel it would be possible.
9. February 2016 – The Board contracted with Applied Insights North (AIN) to complete a demographic and enrollment study. 
  1.  AIN completed a background review of our enrollment to try to discover any trends that may occur.  You can see the Background report here. 
  2. Over the past 10 years, Eveleth-Gilbert’s enrollment has decreased by 21% which is mainly caused by a decrease in resident student (meaning student who live in our communities) of 26%
  3. Open Enrollment plays a large part in our enrollment, but it has remained relatively static over the years meaning the numbers have not changed much in the last 10 years.
  4. AIN mapped out all of our current students and can be seen by clicking this link. 
  5. A map of all students open enrolled into Eveleth-Gilbert can be seen here.
  6. A map of all students open enrolled out and where they are going can be seen here. 
  7. A chart with numbers to correspond to the maps can be seen here.
  8. AIN also provided the Board with an enrollment projection for 10 years out that estimates our school with have approximately 852 students in 10 years (we are currently at 978 today) A copy of the enrollment projection report can be found at Enrollment Projection. 

10.  March 2016 – The Board authorized administration to conduct a public hearing to close the Manual Arts Building and the Old Junior High in Eveleth for educational purposes.  A hearing was conducted before an administrative law judge, several residents spoke, but none could gave any testimony on how saving these buildings could help educate students so the judge agreed with the closure.  

11.   May 2016 – At this point, the Board understood they needed to do something about the space problem and did not think they could pass any of the options before them so they contracted with Architectural Resources (ARI) to get a fresh set of eyes on the project.   ARI conducted a number of meetings with the Board over the summer and into fall: 
  1.  The first was to conduct a space study to determine how much of what kind of space the district needed moving forward.  A copy of that study can be seen at this link.
  2. The next meeting, ARI presented school maps to show how each space was currently being utilized.  You can see a copy of those maps here.  The Franklin has a 60% usage rate, High School 61%, Gilbert Campus is at 39% for an overall average of 50% usage.  Typically schools need to be in the 80% range.
  3. At another meeting, ARI presented to the Board their ideas of facility usage within three options.  A copy of these options can be seen here.
  • Option 1 is a dual campus with PK-6 in Gilbert and 7-12 in Eveleth
  • Option 2 is a PK-12 model on the Eveleth Campus
  • Option 3 is a new PK-12 building
  1.  After not being excited about the price tag on these options, the Board asked ARI to look into a PK-12 on the Eveleth Campus with minimal remodeling.  (total cost about 3 million) You can see that model by clicking here.
  2. Option 1 does not produce the needed operational savings, Option 2 and 3 are very expensive.  The 4th option for a minimal remodel in Eveleth could be done, but it isn’t good for students as they would be crammed into spaces that were not meant for education.
12.  September 2016 – Being concerned about the price tag of any of the right sizing projects, the Board asked their financial expert at Northland Securities to come explain the tax impact each of these options would have.  You can see those reports by clicking this link.
  1.  If the Board were to ask the voters for a bond levy on our own, the tax impact for any of these projects is pretty great.  Northland Securities suggested we try to tap the collaboration fund to get an 80/20 deal with the IRRRB which is far more palatable, however finding a partner is somewhat daunting.  
13.  Other documents the Board has looked at through the process 
  1.  Click on Historical Enrollment Report and you can see since consolidation, the numbers have steadily decreased.
  2. 1978 facilities study for ISD 699 Gilbert (click to view)  This is a lengthy document that was produced for Gilbert many years prior to consolidation.  The results of this study can be summed up by saying it was recommended at that time that they needed to find efficiencies and reduce the size of the campus.  A number of sections of the building including the old HS were recommended for demo.
  3. 1983 facilities study for ISD 697 Eveleth (click to view) this is a study done prior to consolidation that was much the same as the previous one mentioned for Gilbert.  Recommendations were to consolidate space, quit using the old junior high and manual arts buildings for educational purposes and demo old parts that were at the end of their usefulness.
14. Today 
  1.  The Board has commissioned 4 independent firms to study their operating costs and while they all have different ideas as to how to accomplish that, the message from all four is that the district needs to cut their operating costs in the next couple years before we begin to suffer financial peril. 
  2. The Board is rather anxious about the information they have as there is no one plan that jumps out and says it’s the one they need to do.
  3. The Board feels they have ample information to move forward and will be presenting that information to the public for input in the near future.
  4. A decision will be made and put before the voters