WORTHINGTON - District 518 Board of Education members put the brakes Tuesday on a second-story addition proposed for Worthington High School.
After discussing the estimated $4 million project, which would add approximately five classrooms on the northwest section of the building, the board agreed to devote more time to considering the project before giving it the green light.
District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard said after conferring with consultants, it was learned that an early start to the 2019-2020 school year to accommodate construction likely wouldn’t be necessary after all.
“Because we’d likely have an overlap, anyway,” he said of the ongoing construction and the start of the 2020-2021 school year, which is around the time the project - if approved - would be anticipated to be complete.
Board member Mike Harberts was the lone no vote to the motion to wait. He said the operations committee had already reviewed and discussed the possibilities and had agreed to move forward with the classrooms.
“That’s not to say (we will) stop there or won’t continue to add more, but we figured this was an isolated project that we could get moving on,” he said.
Board treasurer Linden Olson was the one who made the motion to discuss it in further detail along with construction consultants.
“I think a project of this size should be vetted by the full school board and not just by the operations committee,” he said. ”I don’t think we have the time or expertise here tonight to do that.”
The board will continue the discussion during a special work session. That has yet to be scheduled. A future referendum will also likely be discussed at the upcoming work session.
Landgaard told board members it was his understanding based on previous meetings - one of which included public comment - that the goal is to have another referendum in November. The board needs to identify the details of that referendum, he added.
He presented a couple ideas for the board to begin mulling over. Among the questions could include a similar one-question ballot for a grades 4-5 intermediate school at an approximate $31 million cost, he said.
A new ballot could also include a second or even third question contingent on the passage of the first, Landgaard said.
A second question might include an intermediate school to facilitate for three grades instead of two. A third question could request permission to bond for the Worthington Learning Center and gymnastics facility currently under construction and high school addition for about $14 million. That would allow the district to eliminate the lease levy - the current planned funding mechanism for the WLC/Gymnastics building - and allow landowners to apply the 40% ag tax credit.
“I like that option because it gives voters some choice and input on how the district will head,” Landgaard said of the multiple question proposal.
In other school board business, the board
- Approved a change to the school calendar that will no longer require students to be present on June 3 or 4. The action came after a lengthy discussion about Gov. Tim Walz’s approval of an adjustment to state mandate student contact days a result of the toll the winter played on schools across the state.
Since it seems the district will have a sufficient number of student instruction time, the board decided not to utilize the governor’s plan. While the board’s action doesn’t result in a change to staff contract days, the board requested that administration find training or other opportunities for hourly staff to make up lost wages as a result of school closures.
- Approved a Trojan Field renovation project, which is slated to begin this summer with surfacing of the middle school track. Board member Linden Olson was the lone “no” vote, due to what he viewed an unnecessary motion, as the board previously approved the project as part of its capital outlay.
Landgaard said he requested the motion so the public was fully aware the project was moving forward. It’s being funded by the district.