Del Norte School Board members on Thursday moved forward with a bond-funded retrofit of Crescent Elk Middle School's roof and main building that officials hope to start in the summer.

The Del Norte County Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $1.3 million bid from Cal Electro of Redding to replace the roof and restore the exterior at the middle school.

The Board also unanimously approved a $22,750 contract with Richard A. Behrens, a Brookings architect who is certified with the California Division of the State Architect, to provide inspection services during the Crescent Elk Project.

"Being out of Brookings he's real close and real flexible," said Curt Zlokovich, the district's director of facilities and construction. "As this job progresses and complexity progresses we need to have somebody we can tap (and say) 'come on down and look at this.'"

The Crescent Elk project is the first in a long line of projects included in the district's facilities master plan, which Yreka architect Guy Fryer, of Siskiyou Design Group, finished in February. The document includes a prioritized list of projects for the district office and each school site as well as cost estimates and whether each school is eligible for state modernization funding through the Office of Public School Construction.

Cal Electro's bid was the second lowest of five bids the district received, Assistant Superintendent of Business Jeff Napier said on Thursday. The Orange County firm Paint and Decor, which submitted a $857,900 bid, later withdrew its proposal due to an error, Napier said.

According to Napier, Fryer estimated the Crescent Elk project to cost about $1.2 million.

In February, the School Board authorized Fryer to begin developing plans for the Crescent Elk project as well as projects at Redwood and Pine Grove schools. Trustees also asked Fryer to begin developing plans for a $4.4 million modernization project at Del Norte High School that's expected to take place in 2015.

In other matters on Thursday, the School Board also authorized the elimination of a vacant instructional aid position and a filled computer lab position at Joe Hamilton Elementary School. The positions are being eliminated due to a lack of funds and a lack of need, according to Pamela Holloway, the district's human resources director.

In the case of the computer lab position, Holloway said the position wasn't necessary because teachers are using computers, iPads and other technology in the classroom.

Patti Rommel, California School Employees Association representative for the district, warned that if the computer lab position at Joe Hamilton was eliminated the school's lab would be closed. She cited section 45101 of the California Education Code, which states that classified employees can only be laid off due to a lack of funds or a lack of need. Since teachers will be using technology more in the classroom, the computer lab employee wasn't let go due to lack of need, Rommel said.

"In this situation, the district intends to continue to leave those computer labs open and working and in doing that it demonstrates that there's no lack of need that computer technology is not taking place in the teacher's classroom where the teacher is doing the instruction," she said. "They're moving into the computer labs. This district determined that the work that is done in that computer lab when it comes to the care and maintenance of those computers is classified work and no teacher can take the place of that."

Joe Hamilton principal Denise Harnden said her school and others are moving away from having students spend an hour in a computer lab, having them do most of their work in the classroom using notebook computers or iPads. There also isn't enough money in the school's budget to fund the computer lab position, she said.

"Our budget has been hit very hard this year, and so we do have to make some cuts in places," Harnden said. "Last year we looked at eliminating that position. We said, 'Let's try it for another year,' knowing we were getting more technology in our hands and it's just at the point where we just can't afford to fund that position."

The district is expected to save about $20,400 due to the elimination of those positions, according to the Board's staff report.

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