Air handler units, chiller at District 518 schools to cost $1 million less than planned

Federal funds will be used to replace mechanical systems at Worthington High School and Prairie Elementary.

Worthington High School
Worthington High School.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

WORTHINGTON — The District 518 Board of Education accepted a bid of $2.3 million for four air handler units at Worthington High School and a chiller at Prairie Elementary during its meeting Tuesday.

The low bid, from Cool Air Mechanical, was significantly under the project’s estimated cost of $3.7 million.

“And we are… comfortable nothing was missed, and everything was included?” asked Brad Shaffer, school board member.

Superintendent John Landgaard said yes, as it had been checked by consulting firm ICS, and the bidder was comfortable with the bid.

Because the project came in at a lower cost than expected, the school will be able to pay for it entirely by using its federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, which came from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.


District 518 was allocated $5.68 million in ESSER money, some of which will be used for staffing and educational materials, and some of which was allocated to facility needs such as the air handlers and chiller.

Work on the air handler units will begin this summer, and the chiller will be installed in the fall, when the cooling season is over, the superintendent added.

In other news Tuesday, the board:

  • Approved the resignations of Aaron Sieve, assistant girls varsity hockey coach; Samantha Schmokel, prom advisor at Worthington High School; Ewa Gruszeczka, teacher at Prairie Elementary; Michelle Berrones, Jay Duitsman and Brooklyn Elder, paraprofessionals at Prairie; Barb Wendt, WHS teacher; Sylvia Garza, Worthington Middle School paraprofessional; Anna Rogers, WMS gymnastics coach; Lisa Nissen, WMS teacher; Pat Rolfes, WHS teacher and head knowledge bowl coach; Mekides Kinati, paraprofessional with Community Education; Austin Selvey, WMS baseball coach; Josh Noble, WHS principal; Shawn Ranek, Pipestone ABE teacher; Madeline Peterson, WMS choir/music teacher; Brett Perish, WMS assistant principal; Lisa Spieker, NHS adviser at WHS; and Summer Eisenmenger, second grade teacher at Prairie.
  • Approved the employment of Ella Napton as WHS prom adviser; Sue Hagen as EL teacher at the Intermediate School; Amarilis Ramos De Lopez as WMS paraprofessional; Jamie Gravenhof as head custodian at Prairie; Josh Noble as director of instruction; Austin Selvey as assistant boys golf coach; and Zach Brandt as NHS adviser at WHS.
  • Approved an employee’s request for sick leave due to pregnancy and child care leave without pay.
  • Accepted a donation from the Minnesota State High School League for student activities/sports participation.
  • Approved a memorandum of understanding with Crossroads Care Center for temporary shelter so Crossroads can use Worthington High School in the event of an emergency evacuation.
  • Approved a student expulsion.
  • Approved an agreement with the city of Worthington that will allow District 518 teams to use the JBS Field House from March 14 to April 15 at no cost.
  • Approved designating some obsolete equipment from the WHS ag shop as surplus property, so that it can be sold as parts if possible or disposed of.
  • Approved a contract with Josh Noble as director of instruction.
  • Approved a one-year leave of absence request from Theresa Tripp who, if hired, will take a one-year math teaching position at Minnesota West Community & Technical College in place of a teacher on sabbatical, and then return to WHS. Tripp was supported by the math department, and intends to use her experience to enrich student learning opportunities at WHS.
  • Granted speech clinicians Darcy Murphy and Kim Anderson the use of teletherapy for one year.
  • Agreed to continue using tickets for the WHS graduation, with each student likely receiving six to eight tickets for family and friends. The ceremony will also be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person.

A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Phone: (507) 376-7319
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