The Napoleon Area City Schools Board of Education Wednesday took the first step in constructing an outdoor education building near the elementary school.

The building, which would be similar to a shelterhouse including restrooms, will be located near where the kickball field is located. The building is estimated to cost $180,000, excluding design fees and furniture and fixtures, and would be paid for through Elementary and Secondary School Relief Funds (ESSER), which are federal funds.

“The thought process is, with COVID, to get kids spread out now,” said Superintendent Dr. Erik Belcher. “We can take them outside, be able to use that outdoor space with them to do hands-on learning with them outdoors was the idea. That’s one of the main purposes of the ESSER funds as well.”

The board approved seeking requests for qualifications for the building. Cory Niekamp, business manager for the district, explained advertising will start soon for those qualifications and be due Nov. 15. Those submitting qualifications will be narrowed down to three, who can come back with their best proposal. Niekamp said the goal is to have the best proposal package from the top three by Dec. 17.

“Once we get that final proposal, we will come back to the board and say this is our recommendation,” Niekamp said, adding they would then ask for board approval to move forward with the construction. “It’s a little bit different because it’s not on best price, it’s basically on the best proposal that meets all of our expectations.”

Treasurer Michael Bostelman added, since it’s a standard building and not a complex structure, the district was advised this process was the most cost-efficient way to proceed.

“It expedites the project because it’s a fairly standard project,” he said.

Belcher said the idea is to move as quickly as possible on the construction of the building, although market conditions could impact the timeline.

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