The New England Public School’s community-approved addition and renovation project is now back underway after taking a six-month hiatus due to the uncertainty of the Dakota Women’s Corrections and Rehab Center. The administration and school board, cautious of the fate of the Center, waited for a decision to be made by the state legislature, which was made earlier this year. I sat down with New England Public School Superintendent, Kelly Koppinger, who had a lot to say about the project.
Koppinger started by telling me about the building committee and their recent decision to resume progress towards their potential start date in the Spring of 2020. The committee is made up of two NEPS school board members, Jeff Hewson & Deran Rafferty, and another 8-10 community members. On December 16, 2019, the committee hired a construction manager, Marc Mellmer of New England, North Dakota, who began working with other entities for surveying and assessment of the school property and building. Koppinger described all of the separate entities achieving a “Mesh” when working together on this project. The architects that were present at the November community meeting do not have a full rendering of the proposed addition, and there are no current bids on the project. Despite the lack of a bid, Koppinger is hopeful that the completion time of the project will be nine to twelve months: “I am hoping to break ground early this spring, and we are looking at a nine to twelve-month completion time depending on the bid,” said an optimistic Koppinger
With the help of state funding, the tax impact on our citizens should be minimal. Of the projected nine million dollars needed for the project, half is currently in the school’s building fund; the other half came from a low interest loan from the Bank of North Dakota. “We were one of very few schools to receive this loan in the state,” said Koppinger. “The educational effects of the proposed addition are going to be very isolated, utilizing the summer for most heavy construction and breaks in school for other large projects once the 2020-2021 school year starts,” Koppinger also stated.
Looking ahead to the new opportunities provided by the addition, Koppinger explained his plans for advancing our technologies in our Vocational Agriculture classes, allowing for a more useful time for students during lunchbreak, forging a new partnership with the DWCRC and the school, the new gymnasium will allow for more diversity in our Physical Education classes and for bettering our extra-curricular activities, and with the addition of new classrooms there is potential for new staff members.
Overall, the building project is still in its early stages of development; however, with the spring months rapidly approaching, it won’t be long until you see the heavy equipment and the workers working diligently on our school. Be on the lookout for more articles on this ever-changing story, up to and past the day we break ground.