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District 518 sets referendum open houses, school tours

WORTHINGTON — The District 518 Board of Education is looking ahead to its Feb. 13 bond referendum on a new approximately $68.5 million high school.

During Tuesday’s regular board meeting, Superintendent John Landgaard said two open-house style meetings have been scheduled for the public to come ask questions about the upcoming referendum.

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 11 and Jan. 23, school board members will be on hand at various stations to answer questions from the public in what Landgaard called a “come-and-go type of meeting.”

Additionally, the school is tentatively considering Jan. 10 and 11, 2018 as dates to provide facility tours to any interested individuals.

During the December board meeting, the district’s review and comment section that required approval by the Minnesota Department of Education before proceeding with the project will be presented. Time will also be devoted to public comment related to the proposed facility.

Special election notices will soon be mailed out, Landgaard added, which, due to a change in law, will no longer be forwarded to another address. If the notice is returned, the school would have to cover that expense, he added.  

Landgaard also reported that the proposed tax statements that depict the maximum the district could levy on the 2018 levy have been sent.

“Next month you will be setting an actual amount,” Landgaard reminded board members.

Landgaard said administration recommends that the board use $1 million in reserves to help cover an increased levy.

“Ultimately I can’t give a specific measure, but that would bring the increase down to under 10 percent,” he said.

A couple factors play into an increase this year, he said. First, there is a $270,000 double levy related to what the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) wouldn’t allow the district to levy for debt service a year ago, he said.

Additionally, Landgaard recommended that the board set aside $2.6 million to pay off three bonds from 2010 that may be paid off beginning in 2019. The MDE, he added, requested that the district levy for the majority of the new $10.5 million ALC/Gymnastics facility.

“That would max out our lease levy — what MDE required us to do,” he said. “We’re seeing a levy increase, so buying down a million will help reduce that spike that will occur this year.”

In other school board business, board members gave a nod of approval for administration to issue a request for proposals for the new ALC/Gymnastics facility.  Landgaard said the drawings are nearly complete, and the timetable is to go out for bids in the second week of December.

Also related to the new facility, board members agreed that giving it a more distinct name would be ideal. Whether that name is based on a recommendation, historic event or person or corporation in exchange for financial support has been discussed but is yet to be determined.

Board Chairwoman Lori Dudley and board member Victoria Blanchette were absent.

In other board business, the board:

  • Approved a request for RFPs to lease district farmland. The approximately 115 acres on the west edge of town has been historically leased in one-year increments.
  • Heard a presentation by District 518 Director of Teaching and Learning Katie Clarke about the district’s World’s Best Workforce Plan. The plan, which was adopted into Minnesota state law several years ago, requires that school districts across the state create a plan with a course of action to get all children ready for kindergarten, all children reading at third grade, close the achievement gap, get students college and career ready, increase graduation rates and practices a strong financial health. Visit http://www.isd518.net/department-of-teaching-and-learning-staff to review the 2017-2018 plan.
Alyssa Sobotka

Alyssa joined The Globe in July 2017 and covers education and crime beats. The Nebraska native earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. In her own sarcastic tone, her blog, Aimlessly Navigating, recounts the reality, pitfalls and triumphs of a young 20-something navigating to maturity. Follow her on Twitter: @alyssasobotka

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