MI-B Rangers

MOUNTAIN IRON — Another school has expressed interest in purchasing Mountain Iron-Buhl’s old high school building.

Superintendent Dr. Reggie Engebritson said, however, that she doesn’t want to “say publicly” what school, “until they make an offer.”

Officials from the school took a tour of the building and sought utility costs, Engebritson said at Monday’s MI-B School Board working session.

“The board is meeting tonight,” she added of the other entity. “We might know more in two weeks.”

The building was appraised at $200,000, and the district is responsible for maintenance and heating costs until the building is sold.

Engebritson also brought to the board for discussion a proposal of offering free gate admission into MI-B athletic events for all district staff, students, coaches, school board members and senior citizens (ages 55 and older), by showing a photo ID.

Students, including those at Merritt Elementary, will be getting photo IDs, the superintendent said.

Currently, admission for students and senior citizens is $3, and adult admission is $5 Admission would remain at $3 for non-MI-B and college students.

Mesabi East, Hibbing and St. Louis County Schools offer free gate admission to their students, Engebritson said, adding that she was a single parent who raised five children and knows how expensive it can be to bring kids to games, especially when also purchasing concessions.

Business Manager Michelle Hopkins said gate fees collected a total of about $20,000 last year, and perhaps half of that came from adult admission, which would still charged if the board moves to accept the proposal.

Engebritson said the funds “offset the cost of sports,” but revenues budget-wise are “a drop in the bucket.” The superintendent said she would rather have parents able to buy concessions.

Board members were supportive of the proposed change. “I have five kids, too,” said Director Jesse White, who added that volunteers working concessions should also be admitted for free.

However, it was noted that many individuals and families have already purchased season passes for the year.

The board will revisit the matter at an upcoming meeting.

Engebritson also asked the board to consider setting a cap on open enrollment. “The board can make it by grade or by the whole school.”

She suggested a capacity of 300 students in the high school (grades seven to 12) and 30 per class (totaling 60 per grade, with two sections per grade) in the elementary school.

There are currently 266 students in the high school and 315 at Merritt, with classes ranging from 38 students in kindergarten to 52 in fourth grade.

Engebritson said she will keep the board posted on the matter.


The board Monday continued previous discussion on setting a fee for outside groups requesting to use of the gym at the new school.

St. Louis County Schools charge $40 an hour for groups up to 50 and $50 an hour for group of 50 or more; no change for non-profit groups, Engebritson said.

The board agreed a fee should be established for groups using the gym “for its intended purpose” in case a request is made, and also discussed the option of asking groups for an insurance rider.

Director Chuck Bainter said he supported a charge of $75 per hour, plus a custodial fee for all groups because “we have a new school gym and the cost is higher.”

Director Lisa Kvas added, “$75 (per hour) seems reasonable. We have a facility to maintain.”

The board also revisited discussion on upgrades to the baseball field.

Vice Chairman Jason Gellerstedt said he received quotes on two options and is looking into a third.

Estimates to use artificial turf range from $250,000 to $350,000. Gellerstedt said he thinks that option should be scrapped in favor of the less expensive alternative of filling, re-sodding, and installing drain tile, which is estimated at $125,000 to $130,000.

Long-term facility maintenance funding from the Minnesota Department of Education can be used for the upgrades, Hopkins said.

Gellerstedt said the second option would require “heavy water.” He spoke with Mountain Iron Director of Public Works Tim Satrang, who said the city would assist with providing water from a hydrant near the field. However, a flow preventer would first have to be installed on the hydrant.

The vice chairman said he will also obtain quotes on hydroseeding the field.

In other business, the board set a truth and taxation hearing for 6 p.m. Nov. 25.


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