In January, the North Dakota Department of Career and Technical Education formally approved the Heart River CTE grant worth 10 million dollars. This 50-50 grant gave New Salem-Almont School District $921,260.00 towards the construction of a building for our Agricultural Program and perhaps future programs as well. A group of board members, administration, community members, and students have been meeting at least once a month to work towards establishing this goal.

EngTech and Consolidated Construction were chosen as the design and construction management team. A site survey and soil borings were completed to ensure the building could be located between the Fitness Center and the north side of the high school.

Since May, there has been three formal meetings with the design and construction management team meeting and Mr. Feiring to discuss where current equipment could be located. The design itself comes from other agricultural shops in the area along with the committee's ideas to best utilize the grant money. On August 1, the committee was given an estimate of potential building costs. As many of you may know, construction prices have risen dramatically; so when the group was given the amount of $2.2 million dollars, the committee quickly looked at areas that they could eliminate or delay in order to bring the cost closer to the awarded amount of $1,842,520.00. The group was able to decrease costs to $1.999 million dollars. Just a year ago, this shop could have been built with less than 1.5 million but like I previously mentioned, prices have gone up considerably.

At the special board meeting on August 3, the School Board voted 6-0 to authorize the design and construction management team to send out bids to construct this building. By authorizing bids, this does not require that the District accept the bids if they are out of our budget, in fact, we are hoping that the bids will be less than the 1.999 million dollars that is currently estimated.

The School Board will hold a public meeting, tentatively the week of Labor Day, to discuss the steps taken so far and then the design and construction management team will meet with local contractors to discuss the plans and encourage them to put in bids.

At times we feel we are on a roller coaster. The committee has been extremely cognizant of the district’s expectation to be fiscally responsible during a volatile market and still design a building that will have an impact on our students 30+ years down the road. The design and construction management team have understood this from the beginning and the committee, I feel, has done an outstanding job of trying to stay close to the awarded grant amount. As we sit today, no additional mills have been added to taxpayers to fund this project.

I encourage and invite community members to stop in or contact me to view the preliminary plans for this project. Minutes from meetings to date are available on the school’s website.