Board OKs $1.7M bid for work:Wakarusa firm gets contract for NorthWood addition

NAPPANEE — Progress is already being made on the future NorthWood High School addition, well before the first spadeful of earth has even been turned.
During the Feb. 25 session of the Wa-Nee Community Schools Board of Trustees, a local contractor was chosen to take on the approaching construction, set to begin this spring.
Members elected to move forward with the proposal presented by Brown and Brown General Contractors of Wakarusa.
Of the nine companies vying for acceptance, Brown and Brown brought forth the lowest base bid of slightly under $1.75 million, coming in well below the $2 million threshold earmarked for the project.
The firm also submitted a $15,500 alternate deduction to include the omission of adding new display cases near the future office suite and concession area, which brought the total project cost down further, to about $1.73 million.
The endorsement of Brown and Brown was also affirmed by Barton-Coe-Vilamaa, the engineering and architectural firm entrusted with the designing of the addition.  Representatives Brian Bohlender and Kari Vilamaa were on hand for the bid award announcement.
“We have had experience with Brown and Brown as a general contractor on several other successful school construction projects in the recent past and believe based on those experiences, as well as their other references, that they are qualified to perform this work,” Bohlender said in a letter presented to the board.
Well in advance of the board’s discussion and subsequent vote on the issue, board president Eric Brown recused himself from the related proceedings and exited the room, due to his affiliation with Brown and Brown.
Eric Brown is the company president, and he does have a conflict of interest statement on file with the school corporation.
The completed addition to NorthWood High School will feature several new offices for administrators and staff members, a renovated and more spacious concession area, and safety enhanced entrances at the southern edge of the building.
Construction is expected to begin as soon as weather conditions allow.
 Other topics on the agenda included a presentation coordinated by Woodview Elementary principal Alan Thompson.  Woodview was the setting for the board meeting, which gave Thompson an opportunity to better demonstrate how the school has benefitted greatly from its participation in the “All Write!!” consortium.
 “All Write!!” is a series of educator- and student-oriented workshops and classes designed to empower students with practical and creative writing skills.
The program is a collaboration among 24 school districts in northern Indiana and southern Michigan.
One of the primary “All Write!!” liaisons, Mindy Hoffar, worked alongside Woodview literacy coach Beth Beer by showing several video clips of Woodview students reading aloud from stories they had researched and composed.
The board was noticeably impressed, and became more so upon hearing the revelation that Woodview’s ISTEP language proficiency test scores have risen dramatically since the institution of the new writing techniques, from approximately 46 percent to nearly 90 percent.
In other matters, the board approved the hiring of Brooke Willson as Spanish teacher for NorthWood High School.
Two resignations were also accepted, that of Kayla Schwartz as part-time custodian at NorthWood and Jody Lengacher, assistant football coach for NorthWood Middle School.
A leave of absence request was also granted for administration office secretary Sharon Plank until March 25.
The board also took action to allow permission to hire Hahn Realty and Auction to advertise the sale and conduct a public auction of obsolete school equipment, at an event scheduled to take place on April 9.
Members also gratefully acknowledged a $1,000 donation to the NorthWood Dollars for Scholars program.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Wa-Nee Community Schools Board of Trustees will be 6 p.m. Monday, March 11, at at the Wa-Nee administration office.