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EGF School Board approves plans for air quality project

A project to improve air quality in East Grand Forks public schools could cost taxpayers roughly $27 more per year for every $100,000 in property value, according to district officials.

A project to improve air quality in East Grand Forks public schools could cost taxpayers roughly $27 more per year for every $100,000 in property value, according to district officials.

The East Grand Forks School Board on Monday approved plans for the project to be sent to the Minnesota Department of Education. Officials there will determine whether the measures proposed will bring the district's schools into compliance with school air quality standards in the state. The state requires a level of air quality but has not set a deadline for schools to adhere to the standards.

"As long as we know we're deficient, it's prudent on the board's part to get the school in compliance," Walt Aanenson, East Grand Forks School District superintendent, said of the project.

According to a recent study, many of the district's classrooms meet less than 30 percent of the MDE's fresh air requirement. Ventilation was found to be especially poor in Senior High School, which was built in the 1960s.

The air quality initiative has been coupled with a larger project to make the district's schools more energy efficient, as well. The total cost of the project is estimated at $8.3 million, but officials say much of the project will pay for itself with energy savings.

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Aanenson estimated energy cost savings of more than $2 million in the next 15 years or so.

Officials say none of the funds used in the project would be dollars that could be allocated for students' education. The school's general fund would not be touched, Aanenson said.

The remainder of the funds for the project will come from School District bonds, the district's capital fund, state aid and a local health and safety levy, according to Aanenson.

The health and safety levy would collect $30,000 for the next 20 years. District officials are able to implement the levy with state approval of the specific health and safety issues it will address.

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