MI-B Rangers

MOUNTAIN IRON — The old Mountain Iron-Buhl high school, appraised at $200,000, is on the block for sale, but no takers have stepped forward yet.

School board members are leaning toward receiving sealed bids for the facility, vacant since the new school opened last fall.

The old school was formally closed following no objections at a public hearing at the end of May, which allowed for it to be appraised and listed for sale, said Superintendent Dr. Reggie Engebritson at Monday’s MI-B School Board working session.

Engebritson said she reached out to both Minntac, to see if the U.S. Steel iron ore operation might have a use for it, and to the City of Mountain Iron, but neither expressed interest.

Other options the superintendent proposed were to enlist a commercial realtor or to put the building up for auction.

School board members agreed the best starting point is to take sealed bids.

“We can set the perimeters” with the bidding process, Engebritson said.

“We don’t have to accept them,” Chairman Jeremy Jesch noted of the bids. “We could still go to a commercial realtor.”

“It’s going to be a tough sell,” said Director Jesse White. “But sealed bids is a good starting point.”

The district is responsible for maintenance and heating costs until the building is sold.

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

Director Chuck Bainter Monday updated the board on proposals for use of long-term facility maintenance funding from the Minnesota Department of Education.

The Facilities Committee, he said, is looking to spend $11,000 to repair the Merritt Elementary’s auditorium roof, which has leaked due to water pooling from the angle of the slope where it connects to the new school.

Another $36,000 of LTFM dollars would go toward installing air-conditioning in the office suite at the new high school, and $2,500 would be spent on upgrading WiFi in the elementary school to keep it current and comparable to the high school.

Bainter noted that only LTFM funding would be used for the projects.

Jesch also addressed a Quarterback Club fundraiser that would sell name plaques to be attached to the back of 160 seats on the football field at a cost of $125 for five years or $1,000 for a “lifetime” distinction. Two sections of the bleachers would be for football and two for softball, he said.

Jesch added that having a name plaque does not make it that person’s private seat.

Director Lisa Kvas brought up concerns about defining “lifetime” and possible contention if the seats had to be replaced in the future. Engebritson said she will check into those matters.

The board also revisited needed upgrades to the baseball field.

Director Jen Tiedeman had posed the subject at May’s working session, saying she heard from parents and community members who are concerned about the condition of the field, especially when compared with the brand new sports complex at the school.

Vice Chairman Jason Gellerstedt, an assistant MI-B baseball coach, said in May that the field is not safe for players and has not been maintained.

Gellerstedt said Monday he has been working to get “multiple quotes” for various degrees of improvements at the field, including filling in holes and placing drain tile. He said he expects to have those by the next school board meeting Aug. 26.

Jesch suggested Gellerstedt and Tiedeman seek a “wish list” of possible improvements, including lighting and concessions at the field.

Engebritson added that bleachers from the old high school have passed inspection and can be moved to the baseball field.

The board additionally revisited the idea of charging a fee for use of the gym at the new high school. Pacesetter Sports had expressed interest in using the gym for a basketball camp last spring.

White said it is a good idea to have a policy in place. “We don’t want to micromanage too much,” but it’s beneficial to have answers if anyone asks, he said.

Board members discussed renting the gym for “its intended use” of sporting events.

Engebritson said she will check to see “what other schools do.”

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