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Motion to expand WHS band room denied at district meeting

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news Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON — A motion to expand the band room for more storage, as well as the possible addition of an office area and a second floor over a current storage area for potential classrooms, failed during Tuesday’s District 518 Board of Education meeting.

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The meeting began with a presentation from WHS Principal Paul Karelis, who said the number of students going into the band and choir programs will again increase next year.

“We’ll have 12 seniors from the music program graduating this year, but we’ll have 56 kids coming into the program next year — making it at least 156 kids enrolled in the music program,” Karelis said.

The project would have begun this month with a 60-day review comment period and a 20-day publication period. Drawing and planning related to the proposed construction would have taken place during that timeframe. Bidding would have started in mid-May and continued into June, with construction then commencing and likely completed by November.

School board member Joel Lorenz discussed his concerns in voting for the plan to expand the band room at this time.

“My concern is that this is just a short-term fix and not something that will last us for the next five years,” Lorenz said. “I would rather spend more money and do something more substantial — I don’t like these quick fixes.

“I also want the operation levy passed first before we start this, and to make sure we can operate this right,” he added. “Remember, we lost last time, and second of all, we need more time to think about this.”

Consultants from MLA Architects, St. Paul, were present at the meeting to respond to the board’s questions and concerns.

“You may look at this project as one part of the solution to the problem of not having enough classrooms, as one of the options is to add that additional above level,” an MLA consultant said.

District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard addressed the student increase situation and the short time frame on the band room expansion.

“When we did a study on the overall utilization of space in our current facility, it showed that we were in the upper 80 percent range of utilization,” Landgaard explained. “I realize this is a really short time frame and it has come up really quick, but we also didn’t realize the numbers that were coming into this program - like the music program on this level - and so the idea behind this design is really to meet the short term, but also address the long term.”

The motion failed by a margin of 5-3, with the total of eight votes including that of WHS student Quinn Bents.

Also addressed during Tuesday’s meeting were the missed days of school due to weather. The board approved that the two days of school missed will be utilized as teacher workshop days.

“Right now we’ve decided that those days will be teacher work days,” Landgaard said. “However, that is contingent to any other missed days. If students miss another day of school, they will have to make it up somehow.”

During Karelis’ presentation, he also announced how many students he projects will be enrolled next year at WHS.

“We started this year with 815 students and are now at 757 due to moving students to the ALC School as needed,” Karelis said. “As for next year, I’m projecting we will have up to 825 students. If it was anything like last year, with the unexpected student increase, we could see up to 840 to 850 students.”

The school board plans to have a work session later this month to discuss any further issues.

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

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