The Grand Forks School Board on Monday, May 24, approved the teacher-negotiated contract agreement for the next two school years and also the selection of JLG Architects to design the proposed K-8 campus and two other local architectural firms to carry out other facilities projects, if voters approve an $86 million bond referendum election next month.

The board approved the teacher contract, which for year one calls for a 0.5% increase in each cell of steps for experience and lanes for academic credits earned, and a 0.75% increase in each cell for year two. The increases amount to $1.156 million for the 2021-22 school year and $1.316 for the '22-23 school year, for a total two-year cost of $2.472 million.

The agreement amounts to an average compensation increase of 2.14% for year one and 2.38% increase for year two, said Scott Berge, the district’s business manager.

The agreement was reached May 19 after the negotiating teams for the School Board and Grand Forks Education Association met seven times since Feb. 24.

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In the session that recently concluded, the state Legislature approved an increase of 1% in per-pupil payment to school districts for each of the following two school years.

Architects selected

Preparing for the possible approval of the $86 million bond referendum June 22, the School Board approved the selection of JLG Architects to design the proposed K-8 campus on the city’s north side. The new school would consolidate Valley Middle School and West, Wilder and Winship elementary schools into one campus, a single structure with separate elementary and middle schools joined by support and shared spaces. The structure would be built on property where Valley now sits.

In addition, the school district proposed that Icon Architects provide the design work, coordination and programming for 11 other facilities districtwide, including the central kitchen, which would be moved from Valley Middle School to Mark Sanford Education Center.

The district’s Agency Selection Committee also recommended that EAPC Architects provide support for continued work at secure entryways at projects identified in the referendum process but not funded through the bonding measure, Chris Arnold, the district’s director of buildings and grounds, told the board.

The EAPC has an employee who is certified in secure entryways, which uniquely qualifies the firm to provide these services, Berge said.

All three architectural firms will be working “at risk” for the district for about a month before the referendum election, Arnold said.

West School’s future

In regard to the future of West Elementary School, which has been permanently closed, Arnold and Berge have had preliminary discussion with the city and outside real estate and developer firms, Berge said. The property is designated for residential use, according to the city, he said, and there has been some preliminary interest in the site.

District administrators will prepare a document requesting proposals for the sale of the school building and land, and present it for approval at the next School Board meeting on June 14, Berge said.

The board also approved the renewal of 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant for about $799,330 for the 2021-2122 school year. The current grant, which funds after-school and early-dismissal programming through the Encore Program, ends June 30.

The grant would seek funding to continue the program at eight elementary schools and two middle schools that qualify as Title 1 schools. Funding also supports two sub-grantees at Emerado Public Schools and the Youth Works Agency, replacing Lutheran Social Services.

Schools that benefit from the funding are Ben Franklin, Century, Lake Agassiz, Lewis and Clark, Phoenix, Wilder, Winship and Viking elementary schools and South and Valley middle schools.

These funds also allow the district to continue to offer summer programming opportunities, said Jody Thompson, associate superintendent of elementary education.

In other action Monday, the board:

  • Approved a memorandum of agreement for School Resource Officer Services for the 2021-22 school year. The agreement provides SRO support at all in-town middle and high schools. The cost for these services is split evenly between the district and the Grand Forks Police Department, Catherine Gillach, assistant superintendent of secondary education, told the board. The cost to the district will be about $173,300, an increase of about $5,000 over last year, for salaries and benefits for five SROs.

  • Recognized Kayla Erickson, Encore Program coordinator, as the Classified Employee of the Fourth Quarter and Miya Lautt, special education teacher at Schroeder Middle School, as Certified Employee of the Fourth Quarter.