WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Independent School District 518 Board of Education committees met Monday and Tuesday and brainstormed possible solutions to concerns about road safety and construction costs.

The instructional committee on Monday discussed a resolution passed Dec. 8 by the Nobles County Board of Commissioners that raises safety concerns about the Oxford Street/Crailsheim Road intersection and encourages the school district to implement crossing guards before and after school.

"That's a budget hit on us and it's probably not the end final result, in my view, that needs to happen," Superintendent John Landgaard said. "That doesn't solve the overall problem. It's still an unsafe intersection."

Board member Brad Shaffer agreed.

"That's just them (the county board) passing the buck," he said, adding that the county should have brought the issue up at the joint city/county/school board meeting rather than blindsiding the district with the resolution.

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The committee asked Landgaard to draft a resolution to send back to the county board, asking the county to move the speed limit sign to slow down traffic sooner as drivers approach from the west. The full board will consider the resolution next week at the regular board meeting.

Landgaard also gave the instructional committee an enrollment update. Currently, there are 1,136 students at Prairie Elementary (a decrease), 937 at Worthington Middle School (decrease), 958 at Worthington High School (decrease), 115 at the Area Learning Center (no change) and 81 in the VIBE program (increase). In total, District 518 has 3,146 students enrolled, which is about 300 fewer than were projected.

Landgaard explained that the majority of the lost students have open-enrolled into neighboring districts due to looser COVID restrictions. Smaller districts have able to accommodate more students in school because they have more square footage per student in their buildings.

The Tuesday operations committee meeting primarily focused on a discussion of winter costs for the intermediate school construction project. Hoogendoorn Construction was set six weeks behind schedule because the state of Minnesota took an extraordinarily long time to approve the necessary permits.

This means that the company is just now getting to pour the building footings, which is work effected by the weather. Workers are having to heat the ground to mitigate frost and heat the concrete so they can pour it, and both steps come at an additional cost.

Hoogendoorn presented two solutions, Landgaard explained.

One option is that it stops work now, and the district doesn't incur any winter construction costs this season. If the project continues on schedule in the spring, then about this time next year, workers will be laying brick for the outside walls, which is weather-dependent, and the district will pay about $120,000 in winter construction costs at that time. This option would also set the projected completion date back to September 2022.

An alternative option is having workers continue to set the foundation now and pay up to $108,000 in winter construction costs. At this rate, the project would be finished in June 2022.

Committee members favored the second option, but the full board will vote next week.

Also in committee meetings:

  • Landgaard noted that the district needs to start thinking about how the personnel at the new intermediate school will be structured and whether the principal has an assistant principal, a dean or both. He said he'd like to have the principal selected in about a year from now, so that person can have some say in the organizational chart.
  • The instructional committee considered 2021 summer school dates of June 7-25 for the EDGE program and June 7-July 1 for high school credit recovery. The board may also choose to provide an additional two-week session for students who need extra help, but final dates will be dependent on how many teachers can be recruited.
  • Landgaard told the operations committee that he has requested a reduction in the assessment from the city on the water line extension along Crailsheim Road from the middle school to Fox Farm Road. The district was initially assessed $185,000, but since most of the land in question isn't buildable, he anticipates the city council will grant his request for a lower assessment.