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Board, community review proposal for Ely expansion

By Sue Sitter - | Aug 14, 2021

Submitted Art A preliminary drawing for proposed additions to the Ely Elementary School shows more building, gym and playground space.

Rugby Public Schools Superintendent Mike McNeff presented a preliminary proposal for work to add onto Ely Elementary School to members of the school board and community Aug. 4.

At the special informational meeting, held at 4 p.m. in the Ely Elementary library, capped a day of meetings with city officials and parent groups, according to McNeff.

“We spent the day meeting with our citizens committee, which was about 25 community members, parents and stakeholders, just giving them an update,” McNeff said. “It was a long day, but we got a lot done and heard a lot of feedback on the overall project.”

McNeff said the meeting was “informational.” School board members made no recommendations, nor did they approve the preliminary plan.

Architects from the firm of Zerr Berg, Fargo, drew the plan for the campus additions. McNeff said the district also hired Consolidated Construction of Bismarck to manage the project. McNeff said both firms had overseen a project to add onto the Rugby High School campus in 2010.

The proposed additions to the Ely campus include a new parking lot and student drop-off area, a bus drop-off area, new space for the existing elementary school building, new administrative space and an addition to the school’s gym. The project also adds a turf area to the playground.

“We started this process prior to 2018, looking at some of the needs at Ely Elementary and just were moving forward,” McNeff said. “We worked with the city, gaining the street near the elementary school for possible expansion and it really took off after pausing last year due to COVID. We’re picking it back up again to address the needs that exist at the elementary school.”

“We have a good amount of COVID relief dollars we received from the federal government that will help buy down a substantial percentage of the cost of this project, so that’s really great timing for it. Also, we’re finalizing some of the payment of the Rugby High School project that was built in 2010; we’re paying those off in the next couple of years, so the timing is really right to do a project that should not increase property tax for those in the City of Rugby and the surrounding areas that are within our district,” McNeff said.

“We think we can do all this for no increase. I think that’s a big deal. We think this is perfect timing,” McNeff added.

McNeff stressed the project “is in the preliminary phase.”

“There’s a lot more education for the community,” McNeff noted, adding, “The board hasn’t even called for a referendum vote yet. All that is going to start coming our way in the next four or five months.”

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