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Column: Tennis courts project to begin next week

District 518

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington School District has a number of great things happening such as band camp this week, the replacement of the gym floor at the High School, increasing enrollment, other facility upgrades and the one that will be starting next week -- the tennis court project.

The district approved the construction of new tennis courts at the middle school location in collaboration with the City of Worthington, U.S. Tennis Association and a business partner. We will be looking for advertising dollars to raise the remainder of the funds. The project originally included a restroom/storage building and lights for the facility, but due to costs, these two items were rejected unless further dollars can be raised to support the additional expenses. The final costs will be approximately $800,000 to build eight new courts in two pods of four courts. They will be located just north of the parking lot that serves the baseball/softball complex, with a walking path from the parking lot to the service road on the southwest corner of the middle school. The timeline for the start of the project is next week, and completion to be the first week of August and ready for the start of the girls' tennis season.

This has been a need in the district since we closed the last of the courts by the high school five years ago due to safety concerns. The district worked in collaboration with Minnesota West to utilize the courts at the college and also in collaboration with the City of Worthington to utilize their courts. The lack of competitive courts for our tennis teams has been a concern for the district. We are excited to be able to work collaboratively with many entities in the construction of the tennis courts and are looking for other partners to complete the total project. The school district is open to naming rights of the facility and would consider all proposals.

The second item I would like to mention is the current legislative session and the delay or stalemate that has developed between the governor and the Legislature. This is extremely unfortunate and counterproductive for many people and organizations as well as the State of Minnesota. As I read the article in Thursday's paper about the potential shutdown plans of the Minnesota College System, it frustrates me that the big picture is lost regarding the potential loss of students to other states -- not to mention potential revenue impacts. The negative impact of a government shutdown in Minnesota needs to be considered carefully in the wake of effects on organizations like the college system and even individuals around the state. This will not only affect personal incomes of many folks, but the education opportunities offered to students.

I believe it is time that our governor and the legislators find common ground that will benefit Minnesota in the best possible manner in the wake of a challenging economic environment. A government shutdown is NOT an option in my view. So, we all need to encourage them to find a solution to their differences and complete this 2011 legislative session, so schools can complete their planning for the new school year. Thank you for supporting District 518.

John Landgaard is District 518's superintendent.