By fall 2014, every Albert Lea school to have air conditioning

Published 9:50 am Tuesday, November 19, 2013

At the beginning of next school year, every school of Albert Lea Area Schools will have air conditioning.

The school board voted on Tuesday night to accept the lowest bid of $2,099,000 to install air conditioning at Halverson Elementary School. The school was the last building in the district to be bidded out.

“This is the third year of the project,” Superintendent Mike Funk said. “Three or four years ago we got zero-interest bonds through the state of Minnesota. There was $11 million from the state available that year, we got all $11 million.”

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Funk said that the total project cost around $15 million, and the work mainly was paid through those funds. Brookside Education Center and Hawthorne Elementary School were finished two summers ago. Sibley Elementary School was done last summer and Southwest Middle School and Halverson will be completed this summer.

“Southwest, we had to go out and rebid because they came in way over budget,” Funk said. “That is probably our most challenging building, but we came in under budget when we bidded this time.”

Funk said one issue was trying to complete the project on a tight summer timeframe. He added that work has already started on weekends and other days when nobody is in the building.


Engineering classes at the high school

Teacher Casey McIntyre updated the board on the engineering classes being offered at the high school through Project Lead the Way. The college credit is obtained from the University of Minnesota or St. Cloud State University. The classes are different than College in the Classroom or Advanced Placement classes. Each class is worth three credits.

To receive credit students must be in the top 85 percent of their class and pass a college-level final. Seventy-five percent of the students received credit in the yearlong classes last year, compared to 50 percent the year before.

When asked what led to the increase, McIntyre said with a laugh, “It’s just excellence in teaching,” before pointing out that the classification to passing the final had been changed from a static number to a bell curve, which goes off of other students’ scores.

In other action, the Albert Lea school board:

• Heard from representatives of Sibley and Halverson about their schools’ respective walkathon fundraisers. Sibley raised $21,603 this year, which was $5,000 more than last year. Halverson did not have an exact number, but it was more than $11,000. The money from Halverson’s fundraising went towards the school’s new wheelchair-accessible playground.

• Heard from Funk about the possibility of the schools switching from the traditional lockdown procedure to a new approach called Run, Hide, Fight, which allows for different options depending on the situation at the school. For instance, the first instinct during a mass shooting is often to hide, but if the shooter is at the other end of the building, it’s probably best to escape the school through the closest exit and encourage others to leave, too.

• Learned about a pre-kindergarten program at Halverson. The program offers 36 full or partial scholarships to “high-risk pre-kindergarten students in District 241 as determined on the Risk Factor Rating Sheet.” The program is at both Halverson and Brookside. Students who were in the program last year are proficient in both their letter names and letter sounds.