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Next potential District 518 referendum not possible until February

WORTHINGTON — If his interpretation of Minnesota election law is accurate, the earliest Independent School District 518 could ask residents to consider another bond proposal is February, Superintendent John Landgaard reported Tuesday to board of education members.

The announcement to the board came at the heels of the district’s failed referendum on Aug. 14. That referendum, Landgaard reported, was the only failed referendum proposal of five Minnesota school district proposals on primary ballots across the state. Additional action on the matter was not requested at Tuesday’s meeting.

In other board action, the board approved the preparation of specs and letting bids to pave the middle school athletic complex parking lot. Board member Mike Harberts was the lone no vote, citing the failed referendum and directing that funding instead solely to classroom space.

“Let’s put the concrete under classrooms,” he said.

Board member Steve Schnieder said the district has given the public the opportunities to fix classroom space issues.

“That isn’t the only issue we have,” he added.

Board member Linden Olson agreed.

“If we don’t do these things, the maintenance and upkeep keep eating away at us year after year after year and costs keep getting higher and higher year after year,” he said.

Depending on the bids it receives and available contractors, the board may opt to aim for project completion yet this fall or wait.

The board also approved free activity admission to senior citizens 65 years and older who come to the district and receive a pass.

According to Activities Director Josh Dale, 10 individuals have already purchased a golden pass. Eight of those transactions are traceable by a receipt for a reimbursement; two are not. Landgaard said they may become known after information that the district is now offering free passes is disseminated.

Pass holders will need to renew annually while free passes are offered by contacting the district.

Dale also asked the board to consider offering more field space for the district’s soccer teams and other outdoor activities. The current practice field north of the high school, he said, is already in poor condition due to the 150 students in the boys’ and girls’ soccer programs.

“The field is about shot with all the rain we’ve had,” he added.

He said the city’s Buss Field is not a viable long-term option for the district. The city, he said, will let the district host games, but that creates logistical issues without overhead lights, which could cause students to miss more classroom hours due to needing daylight playing conditions.

In other board action, the board:

  • Approved a one-year contract with teachers on call to manage and schedule the district’s substitute teacher and paraprofessional’s assignments. The board is hopeful the company will eliminate some of the district’s liability related to Affordable Care Act reporting and some soft costs while expanding the pool of available subs. The board also approved a substitute pay raise. Daily sub rate is now $130 for middle, high and WLC sites and $140 for Prairie Elementary.
  • Approved an agreement to continue to pay employees throughout completion of a student teaching term in exchange for future teaching commitment to the district. That future commitment would be dependent on an employee’s absence due to fulfilling their student teaching obligation to obtain proper licensure.
  • Rejected a $6,000 per acre bid on the district’s 3.1 acres of identified surplus property on Fox Farm Road. Another bid totaling $15,000 per acre had been withdrawn prior to Tuesday’s meeting. Olson said that proposal was contingent on the passage of the bond referendum.