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FULL STORY: District 518 nearing closer to Feb. 12 referendum

WORTHINGTON -- During a Wednesday morning special meeting, the Independent School District 518 Board of Education gave Superintendent John Landgaard the green light to move forward and submit the review and comment for a $32 million intermediate ...

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WORTHINGTON - During a Wednesday morning special meeting, the Independent School District 518 Board of Education gave Superintendent John Landgaard the green light to move forward and submit the review and comment for a $32 million intermediate school bond proposal to the Minnesota Department of Education.

While it’s another step ahead, the proposed Feb. 12 referendum date won’t be set until the board’s regular Nov. 20 meeting. Board members at that point are expected to officially call for the special election. The upcoming referendum is also dependent on the district receiving a positive review and comment.

The board also gave their stamp of approval on a facilities long-term master plan document, which identifies more than a dozen proposed projects. Organized by a handful of priority categorizations, the document is not meant as a concrete timeline, but to provide guidance to district administration as it weighs what the board believes as the greatest future needs with funding as it becomes available.

Identified priority one projects include:

  • Construction of an Alternative Learning Center/Gymnastics Center (in progress).
  • Construction of a new intermediate school (Feb. 12 bond proposal election likely).
  • Remodel/repair Trojan Field.
  • Re-construction of track at current Trojan Field with estimated completion of 2020.
  • Construct a minimum of four new soccer fields at Crailsheim Drive property by target of 2020.
  • Collaborative project to address the district’s community education/early childhood/adult basic education programs by target of 2022.
  • Develop a collaborative Data Center by target of 2022.
  • Follow technology plan for replacement/updating of learning devices/technology needs.

Of the priority one projects, reconstruction of the track and a community education solution were discussed in more detail.
To avoid scheduling conflicts, Landgaard proposed creating a track at the middle school location to be utilized during the reconstruction at the main complex.

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With about 200 students - which includes more than an estimated 100 students bused from the middle school - training on the track daily, Landgaard said having a surfaced track at the middle school location also makes sense for the long term.

Landgaard also reported that the roof above the current Area Learning Center home, West Learning Center, is leaking and “pretty much shot.”  

Board member Scott Rosenberg asked if the building can suit community education’s needs should the district make roof repairs, and after the ALC relocates to the new facility. However, he added he was not keen on making roof repairs to a building that would not house anything.

Board member Steve Schnieder and board chair Lori Dudley agreed, saying repair of the roof would only scratch the surface of what’s needed to bring the more than 60-year-old building up to code.

“I don’t want to give people the impression that we just fixed the roof so the building is ready to go,” Schnieder said. “That building is barely being held together for operations.”

Landgaard said an estimated $17 million is necessary to bring the building up to today’s standards. Dudley said she believes that would be a waste of taxpayer money at this point.

Discussion of a community education space solution had been put on hold since the district, city of Worthington and Nobles County’s proposed collaborative WELL (Welcome, Education, Library and Livability) project failed to receive state bond funding during the last legislative session. A bonding bill is not expected this session, but the district is still interested in partnering with other entities like the city and county.

Other projects the district has identified at the priority level two, three or four levels include:

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  • Reconfiguration of grades in district facilities once a bond referendum passes.
  • Pave the middle school athletic field parking lots, target completion summer 2019.
  • Construct new athletic fields on Crailsheim Drive at 2022 or later target completion.
  • Construct new baseball field on Crailsheim Drive property; expansion of complex with one additional field.
  • Construct new softball field at Crailsheim Drive property; expansion of complex with two additional fields.
  • Address district office space - addition of current facility or relocation to increase space.
Related Topics: AREA LEARNING CENTER
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