District 911 Board considers renovating CIHS kitchen

By Rachel Kytonen

The Cambridge-Isanti School Board is considering a $1.6 million renovation of its commercial kitchen area at the high school.

During the board meeting Thursday, Dec. 22, Mark Eisenbacher, Building and Grounds Director, explained the district has been working on the renovation project since 2007 regarding issues in the commercial kitchen at Cambridge-Isanti High School relating to code regulations, ventilation, comfort and efficiency of the food service employees.

Eisenbacher has been working with Mark Lenz from MLA Architects and Scott Johnson from ICS Consulting on the project. The project has also been discussed at long range facilities committee meetings.

The project would cost approximately $1.6 million and would be paid for over the next two years. The project has been a part of the district’s long range plan and has been budgeted. Eisenbacher explained funding would come from various funds, including health and safety funds, due to the health code violations.

The board did not take any official action on the project at the Dec. 22 meeting, but a proposal will be brought back to the board at its Jan. 9 meeting where action may be taken.

Eisenbacher said the biggest project costs involve upgrading the commercial kitchen with new ceiling lights, exhaust fans, ventilation, enlarging the dishwasher area and making the area a more comfortable work environment for the employees, and improving employee efficiency.

He said the district was issued a code violation from the Minnesota Department of Health to replace the ceilings in the commercial kitchen, but noted the department hasn’t taken any further action since it knew the district was working on correcting the issue.

Part of the project will also include adding a fourth serving line for students, and bringing in different cafeteria tables that would allow for better seating efficiency. Eisenbacher explained the tables would be a variety of styles to accommodate the different physical styles of the high school students. He also said part of the cafeteria will receive new lighting fixtures.

Eisenbacher said currently the high school serves and seats around 330 to 340 students in the cafeteria. He said if future enrollment would reach 2,200 students, the cafeteria would need to serve and seat around 550 students. He said the project would accomplish the future growth.

Eisenbacher explained the kitchen facilities haven’t been updated since 1997 when the serving lines were made longer.

With the project, Eisenbacher said the school could offer three lunch periods per day, instead of four, since the cafeteria would be able to accommodate more students.

Board Member Lynn Wedlund was in favor of that, and noted currently the last group of students begin their lunch period around 1:15 p.m. which she feels is a little late in the day. CIHS Principal Mitch Clausen mentioned eliminating one of the lunch periods would result in more instructional time for the students.

Eisenbacher said currently the custodial staff spends three and one-half hours working in the cafeteria each day. With the new design, their work time would be reduced 50 percent.

Eisenbacher said the project needs to move forward.

“There is a need for this project,” Eisenbacher said. “We have code and comfort issues, and efficiency issues with the food service staff. Another goal is to accommodate future growth. Better table efficiency will help allow for more cafeteria seating.”

If the board approves action to move forward with the project at its Jan. 9 meeting, a final design would need to be ready by mid-February, with construction taking place over the summer.

2012 levy decrease

The district held its Truth-In-Taxation public hearing. During a presentation, Director of Finance and Operations Robyn Vosberg-Torgerson explained the district’s 2011 payable 2012 levy will decrease by 1.55 percent, or $129,625 from 2011.

She explained the school district’s general fund levy will increase by 3.35 percent or $60,567; the community service levy will decrease by 13.51 percent or $50,067 and the debt service levy will decrease by 2.21 percent or $136,124 for a total levy decrease of 1.55 percent.

Revenues for the district are as follows: Levy, $8,191,945; Miscellaneous Local Revenue: $4,194,091; State Aid, $35,554,911 and Federal Aid, $2,852,244 for a total of $50,793,191.

Expenses for the district are as follow: Salaries/Benefits, $35,274,417; Purchased Services, $5,147,540; Supplies, $3,914,100; Equipment/Building, $1,586,715; Improvements, $1,534,128; Debt Service, $5,906, 789 and Miscellaneous, $68,212 for a total of $53,431,901.

Vosberg-Torgerson explained 73.13 percent of property taxes are spent in the debt service fund; 22.67 percent in the general fund and 4.20 percent in the community service fund.

She also noted the Homestead Credit Shift of 2011 that was approved in the Special Session in July after the state shutdown will impact property taxes. She explained the state paid homestead credit has been eliminated, and more of the certified levy will now come from local taxpayers. She said the legislature did this to help balance the state budget.

In other action the board:

• Approved 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 contracts with Athletic Director Mark Solberg and Community Education Director Dave Maurer, and the custodians.

• Heard a detailed presentation from Cambridge Middle School Principal Charlie Burroughs and Academic Coach Bill Kruschel on the benefits of the “Integrated Learning Hour.” Burroughs touched on many benefits of the ILH including the additional technology in the classrooms, and the emphasis to focus on “what the teacher is teaching.” Burroughs feels the ILH has been a very positive benefit to the students at CMS.