MENOMINEE — The Menominee Area Public Schools Committee of the Whole was visited by representatives from Unesco at Tuesday’s meeting. Nelson Brikho and Jim Rognstad of Unesco spoke with the committee about strategic long-range planning for the Menominee school district and what that would look like if the district were to work with Unesco on engineering, architecture and related projects.

“We’ve worked with over 100 school districts,” Brikho said, “I’ve been with Unesco for eight months and prior to that I was with Honeywell for 14 years. We’re just starting in Michigan. Our first job was an energy project downstate near Flint.”

Rognstad said the districts Unesco has worked with so far have been in the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Indiana. “The company started as Unesco in 2014. Prior to that in 1996, it was Energy Services Group based out of Minneapolis. That was bought by Honeywell in 2008, and within a year they tried to buy it back, but Honeywell wouldn’t let them, so they had to wait for about five years until they could re-start.” As a point of clarification, Rognstad said that the company isn’t affiliated with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which is also referred to as UNESCO. “When people Google us that’s usually what they see first, but we’re not them,” he said.

He said they came up with a new approach for serving school district that was more holistic. “They said, ‘We don’t want to be strictly an energy company anymore, we want to look at it holistically. A building is more than just energy or architecture,’” Rognstad said.

Brikho said currently, the school district has some deferred maintenance that is being addressed by the sinking fund, some space utilization concerns, areas of overcrowding and funding limitations, all of which Brikho said Unesco would be able to help the district with. “You’ve got a lot of small projects identified, but not necessarily a long-term, holistic plan for the district,” he said.

“When we look at a comprehensive project, we’re looking at blacktop to rooftop,” he said, “We’re not just looking at energy or infrastructure, we try to be as comprehensive as we can.”

The committee decided to make the decision to work with Unesco an agenda item for the April 16 board meeting. Rognstad and Brikho suggested that an abbreviated presentation of what they gave to the committee for the public to see would be a good thing to plan for at the meeting, and the committee agreed.