The Neligh-Oakdale Board of Education has scheduled another meeting with the state fire marshal for later this week. This is the third meeting for the district but first with the new board members.
During Tuesday's Strategic Planning Retreat, building and grounds chairman Ryan Koinzan said he, along with David Wright, Cory Furstenau and Ron Gilg, will meet with the fire marshal at 10 a.m. Friday. Board member Kenny Reinke also serves on the committee but said he is unable to attend that meeting.
“I called the fire marshal, and we have a meeting set up with him on Friday at 10 a.m. to go through this and get a little more understanding of what he’s asking and what he thinks is acceptable so we can get some type of plan together to see what to do and also to move ahead,” Koinzan said.
The board also discussed opening the basement for student occupancy, adding egress windows throughout the entire building rather than a fire sprinkler system and the possibility of funding some of the projects through a lease purchase agreement.
A new correction plan must be submitted to the state fire marshal's office by Feb. 12. The plan was originally due in December after the bond election failed, but the district requested an extension because two new board members were elected in November. The board has since added a third new member after Del Ames resigned in December.
As for asking Furstenau and Gilg to help the board draft the new plan, Koinzan said, "Cory has done a little bit of work on this and Ron knows the school like the back of his hand.” Koinzan said he would consider adding Don Zegers to the committee.
Wright told the board repeatedly that the chair of each committee will decide which community members are invited to participate on committees.
During the building and grounds portion of the retreat, the board went through each of the 24 points ordered to be corrected by the fire marshal with Lingenfelter updating the board on which items had been completed and which were still an issue for the district.
The board also discussed occupancy of the basement and whether it was feasible to put egress windows in the basement when sprinklers would still be required.
"The sprinklers have to go in. There's just no other way around it," said Brad Higgins, who formerly chaired the building and grounds committee. "If you don't put the sprinkler system in, you have issues with about every door, about every wall."
Wright said he thought the fire marshal stated that with egress windows, students could be in the basement.
Lingenfelter said, “He thought for about two years - until we could get the sprinklers - that could be an option. He also said the egress windows were not necessary if you do the sprinklers.”
Wright said, “What you’re trying to tell me is that you cannot just egress the basement and sprinkle the rest. Is that what you’re trying to tell me?"
Reinke replied, “In the short-term yes, Dave, in the long-term no. Just after two or three years, I think he would come back on you and see if you finished your job in the basement. We could do that right now and get the kids back down there, but if we didn’t come back and button that up, I think he’s going to turn on you.”
Higgins and Reinke told the board that the fire marshal explained that none of the windows at East Ward have a means of egress, so if the board chooses to not sprinkle the building, they would be required to make each window in the entire building egress. However, adding egress windows would still not correct the dead end corridor, which is also detailed in the order.
During the meeting, Lingenfelter referenced a memorandum sent to the district from Steve Williams, an attorney with KSB School Law, detailing the financing options for school improvements.
“The most encouraging part that I read here in a lease purchase agreement is that we can use general funds to pay a lease purchase payment back because typically the general fund is not to be used for major building renovations or major building improvements,” she said.
Lingenfelter said that piece was exciting because the district possibly could use lease purchase toward a new HVAC system and sprinklers, the two most expensive aspects of the order. However, Higgins said that still would not take care of the issues at West Ward. There were eight orders of correction at West Ward.
Higgins asked Koinzan if he had contacted architect Ralph Gladback about attending the meeting with the fire marshal. Koinzan said he had not but took down his contact information.
“Unfortunately, there’s not just the fire marshal issue,” Higgins said. “When you deal with building code, one thing causes an issue with another. That’s where it was difficult in making sure you don’t do one thing that is OK for one guy but not OK for the other.”