Weber presented with MSBA’s Legislator of the Year Award
WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington School Board and MSBA (Minnesota School Boards Association) Director of Governmental Relations Grace Keliher Tuesday night presented to District 22 Sen. Bill Weber the MSBA's Legislator of the Year Award.
WORTHINGTON - The Worthington School Board and MSBA (Minnesota School Boards Association) Director of Governmental Relations Grace Keliher Tuesday night presented to District 22 Sen. Bill Weber the MSBA’s Legislator of the Year Award.
“This award recognizes legislators for their work on behalf of Minnesota public schools and students,” said board member Linden Olson, who detailed Weber’s recent achievements and work for public schools. “(Weber’s) commitment to school boards and students throughout the state, his responsiveness to the voice of members, his work to adequately and equitably fund schools and his ability to respect and seek out the perspective of school districts - but more importantly, his resisting the imposition of new mandates on school districts in the state (makes him worthy of the award).”
Keliher handed the award - a commemorative plaque with an oversized, old-fashioned school bell on it - to Weber, who spoke briefly about public schools and the need for resources across the state to be distributed to schools with minimal governmental interference.
“I think that for education, the state needs to provides the resources that you need to provide the best possible education for young people,” Weber said. “We need to let you use the resources the way you need to use them for your particular school district. Your needs and your problems all take a different twist.”
Further discussion of District 518’s long-term vision also occurred at Tuesday evening’s meeting, with Superintendent John Landgaard providing an update on future facilities plans.
“We are working toward next fall’s November election - at this point, we have indicated that a new high school would be a part of that ballot,” Landgaard said. “That is the direction that we have looked at and received input already from others on. The other part is to begin to plan for the closing of the West Learning Center (under the continued implementation of the long-term plan) and develop or find a property that would support the direction of the district.”
If the West Learning Center was demolished, the district would need to find a new space for the Alternative Learning Center (ALC), which currently occupies about one third of the building, and also consider the needs of other offices and entities currently housed there..
“Part of the programming there now is Continuing Education, special education director’s offices, teacher’s learning offices and the ALC,” Landgaard said.
Another part of the continuing conversation around the long-term plan centers around athletic facilities for some of the district’s teams, with Landgaard mentioning some potentially significant proposals and changes.
“A part of the discussion is related to other needs, things like the updating or replacement of Trojan Field, gymnastics and other items along those lines,” Landgaard explained. “There are some decisions based on input at the meeting and what has occurred to establish what that direction will be.”
The newly completed addition to the high school was one step in the long-term plan, said Langaard, adding definitively that the new space is not an alternative to a new high school nor a long-term solution.
“The addition provides space for the high school at this time, but part of the next step of the long-term plan is that space will be needed for the middle school after the construction of a new high school, so the addition needed to occur,” Landgaard said.
Board member Brad Shaffer inquired as to the number of classrooms used by the ALC in the West Learning Center, and the amount of space that would be need to house the ALC after demolition.
“There are about 10-12 classrooms the ALC is using, and the total building is 56 or 58 thousand square feet; around 15,000 square feet of that is the ALC,” clarified Landgaard.
Board chairperson Lori Dudley asked about the status of the gymnastics program and lease with the county for the Worthington Armory building.
“We are in year one of a two-year lease with the county, so we have it for next year,” Landgaard said. “At that point, the lease is up, and the thought is that we would not continue after this point.”
Dudley responded, “Are there discussions with the county going on about the Armory?”
“The county is still working through the process of deciding on what to do with that space,” Landgaard answered.
In other business, the board:
- Was briefly introduced to major proposed legislation from the Minnesota Rural Education Association. The legislation is related to school bonds and would provide a 50 percent tax credit to farmers on school bonds.
- Heard the monthly financial report from district Director of Management Services Dave Skog, who said that the district is running slightly ahead of last year on both revenue and expenditures, with expenditures being higher due to the construction of the high school addition.
- Approved the tax abatement for the Nobles Home Initiative of the Davis property at 1706 N. Clifton.
- Passed the Nobles County Integration Collaborative general budget.
- Approved the expulsion of a student for a violation of district policy related to weapons brought to the school. The student has the ability to return next fall if necessary based on the signing of a waiver, and the district must provide for the education of the student at a building other than the high school, likely the ALC.
- Announced an open house and ribbon cutting for the high school addition to take place 5-7 p.m. Monday. After the open house, there will be a public input meeting regarding the direction of the district with facility needs and the long-term plan, with a 15-minute information presentation and a question and answer session following. A short survey will also be available for the public to provide response and input.
- Listened as student representative Quinn Bents congratulated WHS’s MSHSL Region 2AA Triple “A” Award winners Cameron Jenson and Meredith Moore. “I think they represent this school extremely well,” Bents said.