GFW Board OKs plan to install 2 new boilers

FAIRFAX – The Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) school board approved option 3 regarding the Gibbon school boilers issue Monday.

Superintendent Jeff Bertrang told the board the school district has $58,000 remaining in its construction fund and $111,000 from a recent court settlement concerning boiler problems. Bertrang said another $250,000 is available due to the school district’s 2012-13 fund balance increase.

Under option 3, estimated to cost $335,070, two existing steam boilers will be replaced with two new boilers, a smaller one for fall/spring use and a larger one for heavier winter demand. The option provides redundancy for backup and efficiency based on demand. Chimney size will be reduced and the floor will be repaired.

Other boiler options ranged from $229,950 to $256,230 to replace one steam boiler, $663,570 to install two new closed water system boilers that would cut chemical and water use or not replacing anything and continuing to have maintenance issues.

Bertrang said the district’s superintendent search continues with meetings including board and community members plus staff. A candidate list will be presented to the board at a meeting set for 6 p.m., Monday, April 29.

Bertrang said district health insurance rates will increase 24 percent next year, effective July 1. The increase limits district programming options for 2013-14.

Bertrang said a strategic planning session with local residents and civic leaders went well.

“Students will continue to work to become more visible in each community and Fort Ridgely State Park,” Bertrang said. “Spring cleanup projects will include planting flowers and other community service projects. Interest was voiced in doing more job shadowing and career exploration in each community.”

The board approved resignations from Kindergarten teacher Lola Rieke with 26 years at Fairfax and GFW, and elementary teacher Laurie Larson, 34 years at Gibbon and GFW. Approved severance packages could save the district $10,545 to $37,727 over three years.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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