Contractor approved for Safe Routes project
By Brian L. Gray
The Mandan School District, in an effort to make student routes to the new Red Trail Elementary School, has named Bismarck engineering firm KLJ as the contractor for the project.
The district applied for a Safe Routes to School grant in the winter, which is operated by the North Dakota Department of Transportation, and this summer was approved out of 18 applicants.
The grant will help fund crosswalk striping on 37th Avenue N.W., new crosswalk striping and curb ramps on 43rd Street N.W. and Old Red Trail, and a flashing beacon system at the intersection of Old Red Trail and 37th Avenue N.W. It will also help pay for 1,600 feet of new sidewalk along those streets and intersections.
The improvements are part of a plan to make the surrounding area of the new elementary school safer for students.
The grant will cover 100 percent of funds up to a maximum of $184,800. Costs include construction and construction engineering.
KLJ assisted in preparing the plan for the district in its application for the grant. Engineering costs came in at $41,000, which are not eligible for grant funds. School Superintendent Mike Bitz said the bill can be added to the construction costs and will be paid for with the bond for the new school.
Bitz also added that elementary school enrollment is continuing an uptrend. As of its latest report on Aug. 1, a total of 1,610 students have enrolled in Mandan, an increase of 106 from the same time the previous year. Two grades of concern to the school administration because of its size are the second and fifth grades, because the average number of students in each classroom are above the recommended average. The fifth grade class’ average size is at 26.45 students, while second grade is at 23.75 students per classroom.
Since the report was released, roughly 43 students had submitted requests for records, Bitz said, indicated a potential transfer, while another 18 students had registered since that day.
Because of the increasing numbers of students in the Mandan school district, Bitz said that the school board should consider hiring a third party to perform a study on future growth and how the district could prepare for the increase.
“We live in a mobile society and we’re in a mobile area, so students are constantly moving in and out of the area right now,” Bitz said. “If you read the north corridor study, it shows that it might not be a bad idea to have someone from the outside take a look at our future growth.”
The district also raised its daily substitute teacher pay from $100 per day to $110 per day. Bitz said substitute teacher pay has not been increased in several years, so it felt like the time had come for an increase. In recent years the district’s pay was comparable to other cities. Although cities like Minot, for instance, recently increased its daily pay from $100 to $140, Bitz said it is not necessary for Mandan to increase the pay that much, as the need for teachers is not so prevalent here as it is in cities like Minot. “So I don’t think we’re in an area that has to do that,” he said.