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School board saves money, selects architect

WORTHINGTON -- The District 518 school board discussed several items during its meeting Tuesday, including refinancing bonds that will save the district about $1.5 million, and also approved Wold Architects to design the proposed new high school.

WORTHINGTON - The District 518 school board discussed several items during its meeting Tuesday, including refinancing bonds that will save the district about $1.5 million, and also approved Wold Architects to design the proposed new high school. 

The board OK’d a resolution to refinance nearly $5 million in bonds from past construction work at Worthington Middle School. The board gave the school administration approval to seek refinancing for the bonds remaining from the project during a meeting last month.

“The refunding is a huge issue, (and it will) lower the tax impact to taxpayers,” Superintendent John Landgaard said.

“We also did another refinance,” board member Linden Olson added. “This is the second time that I’ve been here that we’ve saved money.”

In 2013, the board refinanced the remaining bonds from the 2001 construction of Prairie Elementary and saved taxpayers $1.3 million, according to a previous Daily Globe article.

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Wold Architects, located in St. Paul, will design the new high school as well as other facilities located on the school property. A committee interviewed and chose the company over three others, Landgaard said.

The school board also voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the district goal plan drafted by committee members to increase student achievement. Officials hope that 80 percent of pre-kindergarten to 4-year-old children will be enrolled into a preschool program, and that 80 percent of students in grades 3-4 will be deemed “proficient” in reading as measured by the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) by 2020.  School leaders also hope that 100 percent of high school students will graduate from district schools - as measured by the annual yearly progress report - and that they will be able to identify their future career goals by the time they enter 12th grade. No timeframe was established for these goals.

According to a school study, Landgaard said, 63 percent of sophomores believe they will go onto some type of postsecondary education, and 64 percent of graduating seniors will seek additional education after attending high school.

“I think that really speaks a lot on how early we prepare them,” he added.

Worthington High School Principal Josh Noble said teachers and administrators are trying to help students understand that they do not need to attend a four-year college to receive a postsecondary education.
In areas like Worthington, many jobs require applicants to have a two-year degree, which can be obtained at colleges like Minnesota West Community and Technical College, he said.

About 15 percent of jobs in Worthington require a four-year degree, Noble added.

“(The students’) choice isn’t four years or nothing,” school board member Stephen Schnieder said. “There are a lot (of degrees) in between.”

The school board also approved the first reading of a set of district policies that include Title IX and Equal Education Opportunity. The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education recently sent a letter to school districts outlining terminology, identification and facility use of transgender students.

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Gender-neutral restrooms are available in schools, Landgaard said. Landgaard is the district’s Title IX Officer, responsible for enforcing and informing teachers on the statute. Primarily, school officials work with students on a case-by-case basis if they would like to use a different bathroom from what they are accustomed to.

“We work hard to not infringe on their rights,” Langaard said, adding that the school must comply with Title IX.

“When you work with kids and parents, it doesn’t have to be a big issue,” he said.
For more information about Title IX, contact Landgaard at 372-2172 or at 117 Marine Ave., Worthington.

 

Related Topics: SCHOOL BOARD
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