School board discusses potential new ALC and gymnastics building

WORTHINGTON -- Members of the Worthington District 518 school board discussed a potential building option that would relocate the Alternative Learning Center and the district's gymnastics program during their regular board meeting Tuesday night. ...


WORTHINGTON - Members of the Worthington District 518 school board discussed a potential building option that would relocate the Alternative Learning Center and the district’s gymnastics program during their regular board meeting Tuesday night.


District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard introduced a plan to build a $10,675,000 facility at the school-owned property on the west side of town. The site would potentially house ALC students and Worthington gymnastics in one facility.



The proposed 41,510-square-foot building would have a capacity of 140 students. The facility would have 12 general purpose classrooms, one special education room, a fitness room, a gymnasium and a conference room, among other amenities. The rest of the building would be comprised of food services and administration offices.


The ALC portion of the facility would be 19,130 square feet. The gymnastics part of the building would have a gymnasium, gym storage, team rooms and two offices and make up 10,520 square feet.  


The board was introduced to two options for financing the building. It could finance the facility through Certificates of Participation (COPs), meaning the district would contribute $4.2 million - money the district has set aside.


If the board uses COPs, the district would have to levy a bond of $6,575,000, since the district would pay for40 percent of the project. The COPs option has an estimated annual tax increase of $37.63 for a residential homestead valued at $175,000. The annual tax increase for an agricultural homestead of 160 acres would be $167.36.  



The board could also decide to take the matter to the public via a referendum. That would almost double the annual tax impact, since the board would levy a bond of $10,675,000. Residents with a residential homestead valued at $175,000 would see an annual tax increase of $65.22, and those with an agricultural homestead of 160 acres would have an annual increase of $290.09.


“I think … it does a pretty good job of solving two problems that we have,” board member Linden Olson said. “One of them is the ALC, which is a fair amount of what is in the West building, then gymnastics, with which we have a deadline.”  


The board opted to further discuss the matter during either a work session or special school board meeting, which was scheduled for 7 p.m. April 27.


In another matter, the board approved support of a collaborative effort between the city of Worthington, Nobles County and the school district for the construction of a facility that would house the Nobles County Library, Community Education, Adult Basic Education, Early Childhood and the Nobles County Integration Collaborative.



“I think this is a huge benefit for the community because you can deal with Community Education - some of those students are the most active users of the library - and it addresses the library,” Landgaard said. “We create that welcome center environment, and we create community benefit.”


Landgaard explained that the project is still in its early stages, but the county is moving forward to determine more specifics of the proposed facility as well as the cost. He added that other community organizations would also be able to be part of the partnership.


The board also discussed potentially hiring DehlerPR, an independent public relations firm specializing in public affairs issues. Landgaard said the main goal of the communication consultant would be to strengthen and maximize the communication process with the community, whether that be with the usage of the district’s website or newsletter. He added that the firm could potentially take care of media relations, public affairs and crisis communication.


In addition, Landgaard said if the board decides to move forward with the referendum, the firm could also be used to inform the public about it.


“They actually (could) work to put a plan in place that would assist the district on our communications and potentially help with any research, community engagement or strategic planning that would be a part of that referendum,” Landgaard said.


The board agreed to gather more input during its April 27 meeting, during which it will listen to what a DehlerPR communication consultant has to offer to the district and learn more about the costs of the firm’s services.


Olson noted that many districts have a person who focuses only on school communications. He added that he believes the district is in need of a person who can target the communication process with residents.


“At the present time, neither members of the board nor administration have the time or expertise to do things that I really think need to be done,” Olson said.


School board member Brad Shaffer also supported the idea of having an informational meeting. He said the effort is not about trying to push a “yes vote” but to inform residents in a better way.

“I  know that any time you go to a meeting or work session….one of the the biggest issues that comes up is communication,” Shaffer said. “ … To get communication out there properly to the people so they can understand what’s going on, I think it would be very beneficial for us.”


School board member Scott Rosenberg expressed concerns about hiring a communication consultant, but said he’s willing to listen about what it can offer.


The school board also approved:


  • The termination and nonrenewal of teaching contracts with Amy Gartland and Brenda Knuth.
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