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District 518 committee recommends home initiative approval

WORTHINGTON -- District 518 Board of Education operations and instructional committees met this week, and will recommend renewal approval of the Nobles Home Initiative at the Oct. 17 regular board meeting.

District 518 Administrative Building
District 518 Administrative Building (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - District 518 Board of Education operations and instructional committees met this week, and will recommend renewal approval of the Nobles Home Initiative at the Oct. 17 regular board meeting.

 

The housing initiative, which allows approved individuals to construct or rehabilitate housing with a tax abatement incentive, has been a joint project between the city of Worthington, Nobles County and District 518. The initiative, which is soon up for renewal, is for a proposed duration of five years as opposed to three.

 

Abraham Algadi, executive director of Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp., was present at Monday’s operations committee meeting. As of Monday, he said, there had been 56 tax abatement approved projects with a few others in the pipeline over the course of the last three years when the initiative began.

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“It’s targeting young professionals that want to live in a decent home for five to six months - a year before they move on and buy in town and establish connections,” Algadi said.

 

The city and county have already given renewal approval, and the matter is expected to be on next Tuesday’s regular school board meeting agenda. The school board’s operations committee recommended approval.

 

However, not all school board members seem ready to take action. During Tuesday’s instructional committee, board member Linden Olson said he plans to make a motion at Tuesday’s regular meeting to postpone action until the board hosts a work session on the topic.

 

Olson voiced his opposition at a Sept. 14 Nobles County Economic Opportunity Network meeting. According to the meeting minutes, Olson said he is not in favor of renewing the initiative if the district’s bond referendum does not pass, as there is no space for additional students.

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Each committee also got the opportunity to learn about the district’s financial standing as of June 30 during a review of the 2016-2017 audit report, presented by Wayne Drealan of Drealan Kvilhaug Hoefker and Co., P.A., the Worthington accounting firm hired by the district to complete the audit.

 

“All in all, just a very strong position from a financial statement and financial stability disclosure,” Drealan told board members.

 

Drealan highlighted various funds, but detailed the positive activity to the district’s general fund. The fund had a revenue of $42,285,000, which exceeded that budgeted by 2.5 percent, Drealan said.

 

The fund was also under budget in its expenditures. The year’s expenses totaled $37,236,000, a 5.9 percent under budget.

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“So a combination of revenues over budget and expenditures under budget … and with a surplus sale, you put $5,122,452 into the general fund,” Drealan said.

 

That action brought the general fund to $20,406,393 at the start of the year.

 

The instructional committee also heard an update on the state of Trojan Field after last week’s heavy rainfall and Friday night’s high school football game and Minnesota West Community and Technical College’s on Saturday.

 

“I’ve only seen it this bad once before, and it wasn’t as bad as it is right now,” said Superintendent John Landgaard.

 

Olson said he has concern for student safety playing on the field, especially if it dries out.

 

Landgaard said the city is allowing the school to move its Thursday boys soccer playoff game to Buss Field, leaving the Oct. 18 home football game as the last scheduled school activity on the field.

 

“The city has been outstanding with helping us,” Landgaard said.

 

He added that the plan is to continue Wednesday’s home football game on Trojan Field, and he is hopeful they’ll manage by applying water to soften the hard pieces.

 

Board vice president Scott Rosenberg asked what football game did the most damage. Landgaard said while the size of an adult playing on the field versus a high school student makes a big difference, both games had a negative impact.

 

“Friday contributed to it, Saturday just finished it off,” he said.

 

He said at this point, the school may need to consider charging the college a higher rent for use of the field, due to the older facility now requiring more maintenance.

 

“It’s a 1960s facility that has had minimal updating, and it’s tired and worn out,” Landgaard said.

 

Other items reviewed by the committees and likely to appear on the Oct. 17 regular meeting agenda include:

 

  • A referendum survey. The district’s hired communications consultant, Jeff Dehler Public Relations, recommended hiring another firm to create a survey in an attempt to determine district patron’s attitude toward the upcoming Feb. 13 bond referendum.

Board Treasurer Brad Shaffer said he is unsure about the value of the survey or if it would reap a true representation of patron’s attitude.
“The only people that will participate are those heavily for or against,” he said.

The operations committee made no recommendation, and the full board will further discuss Tuesday.

  • An update of the new ALC/Gymnastics facility. Landgaard told instructional committee members that he was going to meet with the architect this week and anticipated having a better idea of projected construction costs to share with the full board on Tuesday. The project is on schedule to be let out in December with bids opening in January, he added.
  • District accreditation and board evaluation. AdvancedEd, a non-profit educational accreditation service, will be conducting an on-site evaluation of the district’s functions Nov. 6-8.

The district also has the option to have a live, streamed or recorded school board meeting evaluated by the organization free of charge. Olson said he was in favor of having the board evaluated, and recommended the board take action if needed.

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