Hastings School Board accepted a new bid for upcoming middle school improvements and received an update on the district's financial future at its March 27 meeting.

Superintendent Tim Collins detailed that Burnsville-based CM Construction withdrew an initial bid for Hastings Middle School improvements, due to misbudgeting its bid. The board agreed to accept a bid from Corval Construction Inc. in its place, with a higher cost of roughly $20.9 million from CM's low bid of $20.66 million.

The board also delayed approval of a bid for Todd Field improvements. The district's engineering and architecture partner, Wold, requested more time to collaborate with the city of Hastings.

The improvements include adding an accessibility lift, a turf field and many other improvements.

Collins said the bid approval would likely come at the board's next meeting on April 10.

Health insurance premiums froze, strong district finances

Collins gave a presentation on the state of the district at the meeting. He detailed that health insurance costs for the district were low and that it was part of overall strong district finances.

The district was able to freeze health care premiums for the second straight year, due to a high health savings account amount and relatively healthy employees.

"When we first got into self-funded (health insurance) ... we wanted to make sure we did have enough to cover our costs," Collins said in an interview on Thursday. "We were contributing a little more than what our costs were."

In the board meeting, Lisa Hedin, vice chair of the board, said that next year the premiums would likely raise. She cautioned the board not to get comfortable with frozen premiums.

Collins also detailed that the district's finances were strong through the health premiums being frozen, strong community support through levies, a two-year blip of almost static enrollment levels and a projected 2 percent increase in state funding.

Other notes ...

• The School Board also recognized the Hastings High School boys' basketball team for its academics. The team was named academic state champions in Minnesota Class AAAA, with an average 3.68 GPA, the highest average GPA of the 50 teams that submitted grades, said Chad Fiekema, the head coach, at the meeting.

• The board recognized Hastings Bus Company's drivers for their work driving in the winter.

• Collins also detailed that the district is exploring combining funding sources for an equity coordinator.

• The board approved the resignation of two long-term employees, Kathleen Hanson, high school vocal teacher for 18 years, and Bonnie Jasicki, middle school English teacher of 26 years.