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Tuesday is $23.9 million Windom Area referendum

WINDOM -- A decision four years in the making will be made Tuesday as Windom Area School District residents will determine future action regarding the district's $23.9 million proposal for school construction and expansion.

WINDOM - A decision four years in the making will be made Tuesday as Windom Area School District residents will determine future action regarding the district’s $23.9 million proposal for school construction and expansion.

In the first school district bond vote in approximately 20 years, voters will be asked if they support the construction of a new elementary school for kindergarten through fifth grade and an expansion of the high school’s career and technical education programming - at a cost that would not exceed $23.9 million.

“It’s been planned and straged for this spring, so we’re on schedule as planned with community feedback and input with the survey,” District 177 Superintendent Wayne Wormstadt said of the school’s process, which involved multiple community focus groups and a survey of district residents.  

Polls are open from noon to 8 p.m. at the Windom Community Center. Residents can still register to vote Tuesday at the polling place by providing identification and proof of residence.

District 177 residents could begin casting absentee ballots March 23 at the Windom Area School District Office.

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As of Friday morning, more than 100 absentee ballots had been returned, Wormstadt said.

What a ‘yes’ vote would mean If the referendum passes, design and planning would begin for a new K-5 elementary school built on the current middle/high school site. The exact location is yet to be determined.

According to the district’s referendum-related literature, the new school would alleviate overcrowding at Winfair Elementary, which is currently at 100 percent over capacity.

Winfair would be rented to the Southwest West Central Service Cooperative to support students from 13 area school districts with severe behavioral needs.

Highland would become the preschool housing center to serve the district’s youngest learners in several capacities. The building would also serve as the District Central Office.

If approved, construction of the new elementary school is anticipated to begin in spring 2019. Occupancy would likely occur in August 2020.

CTE expansion Bond approval would also allow the district to expand its technical programs to better begin education of a skilled workforce.

Instructor training and applying for grant funding for an auto shop, welding and medical careers spaces is slated to begin immediately this summer.

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With the expansion, freshman seminar courses and introductory manufacturing engineering and medical careers courses will begin next school year. Designing the physical expansion will also begin next school year.

Other programming expansion identified for the 2019-2020 school year will include a new industrial technology position and agreements with Minnesota West Community and Technical College to better align the school’s curriculum with the college’s programs with career readiness in mind.

Occupancy of the new expansion is slated to occur in fall 2020. The new space would provide instruction for small engines/automotive, agriculture, construction trades/wood and medical careers.  

Since officially calling for Tuesday’s election in late February, the school has hosted four informational meetings for community members. The meetings have included a presentation, question-and-answer session, and small group tables related to tax impact and a tour of Winfair Elementary.

According to Wormstadt, comments from community members have been positive and respectful through the public presentations and meetings.

For more specific information regarding Tuesday’s District 177 bond proposal, visit http://windom.ss13.sharpschool.com/district/bond_referendum/ .

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