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District 518 continues search for community-backed solution

WORTHINGTON -- It's back to the drawing board for Independent School District 518. The board of education and administration are hopeful community organizations will take on the challenge of helping design and plan what could become its next ball...

WORTHINGTON - It’s back to the drawing board for Independent School District 518.

The board of education and administration are hopeful community organizations will take on the challenge of helping design and plan what could become its next ballot question to accomplish a solution to its current and projected building space concerns.

“(We’re) really trying to come up with a plan that the community can get behind and support and move forward,” said District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard about the idea behind the new community-centered approach.  

Community organizations wanting to participate will move relatively quickly.

Guided by a list of district information pertaining to enrollment, Minnesota Department of Education requirements and with consideration to financial responsibility, participating community organizations will meet with district building consultants from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 10. Organizations will present their plan to the board of education during its regular April 17 board meeting, beginning at 5:15 p.m. in the High School Media Center. Board members will complete a checklist of more than 25 questions for each plan.

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The board will then host a special board meeting April 23 to determine which direction or action to take on the community plans presented.

The citizen plans may influence a ballot question as early as Aug. 14, which would be two days more than the statutory minimum a government organization can host an election following the introduction of its most recent ballot question. If the board opts for an August election, it’s anticipated it would create a resolution call for it during its May 15 regular school board meeting.

Landgaard stressed the board may not opt for an August election, but should it go that route, a review and comment must be submitted to MDE in May. Hence, the fast-paced timeline.

“Ultimately, we have to come up with something,” Landgaard said. “We have to solve our space issue, and there's no reason not to move it quickly.”

Landgaard said this approach seemed worthy of a shot, as many community individuals are aware of the district’s situation and were recently equipped with a lot of information from the February bond referendum.

He stressed that participating organizations should not concern themselves with submitting a perfect plan or “dotting every ‘i’ or crossing every ‘t.’”

“As a district we’re going to have to do that, but if we could at least get the overall arching feel of how to move forward, then we can get it done,” he said.

Despite the citizen initiative under way, the district’s discussion and consideration of a multi-tiered/rotational schedule is not off the table, Landgaard said.  

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After a recent informal survey indicated respondents overwhelmingly did not support such a solution to space concerns, some board members publicly expressed dissatisfaction and concern relating to implementing that schedule against what appeared to be the community’s wishes. But, until the board’s motion - made a couple months ago authorizing Landgaard to research the logistics - is quashed, it’s still a consideration, he said.

“I would say based on (the survey feedback) it’s potentially something that could be eliminated from the list of things we consider,” Landgaard said. “(But the board) wants a little more information.

“They’re trying to do their due diligence and seeing if this is an option that will work,” he continued. “You have to keep looking for solutions to solve what’s going on … we have to come up with some solutions.”

Landgaard said a variety of individuals - members of community organizations - are invited to participate. If others involved in a community-based organization are interested in participating and have not received the information, contact Landgaard at the district office at 372-2172.

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