The Lanesboro School Board saw a change to the agenda at their meeting August 9 in the forum of the Lanesboro, Minn., school. HVED Director Deb Marcotte was slated to give a presentation about the HVED (Hiawatha Valley Education District) joint powers agreement before the board voted on the agreement. Recent developments in price negotiations led to a need to revamp the agreement before the board could consider it. The board tabled the agreement and will schedule a special meeting once a new agreement is ready.
According to the board chair and HVED representative Christine Troendle, the price of purchasing the former Winona Mall building has dropped from $4.5 million to. $4.3 million. This will decrease the share needed from the Lanesboro District.
Superintendent Matt Schultz shared a letter of support from the HVED board of directors for the joint agreement that he’d received via email a few hours previously. In the letter, the board detailed how HVED had gotten to the point of purchasing the building and explained the many benefits of the building for daily operation of HVED. It also compared what neighboring education districts had done to best serve their members as well.
An updated spreadsheet provided information to estimate how much additional taxes such a purchase would bring for individuals. An example was that an agricultural homestead of 300 acres of land valued at $6,000 per acre would see a tax increase of $144 per year. A home valued at $300,000 would see an additional tax of $45 per year.
Troendle explained to the board that remodeling would be concentrated on the areas that would be used for the SAIL (setting IV behavior) and SPECTRUM (autism) programs for students. An office area in the building has been recently remodeled and could be used as is for the HVED office. Much needed fenced green space would be created by removing a portion of the aging parking lot. HVED is working to bring the the total cost after remodeling to $15 million.
The programming provided at the building is some of the most expensive programming to provide. The purchase of the building would provide a better scenario for member districts to serve such students rather than having to build areas at their own schools.
Troendle closed her comments by saying, “If we accept that we need to serve all the students, we need to do this. Our district has always been very supportive of whatever our students need. It’s important and it’s manageable.”
In keeping with his promise to focus on Lanesboro’s strategic plan, Schultz referred to specific parts of the plan as he reported. He noted recent legislative action passed the Read Act which requires anyone teaching reading to go through new training. Schultz is hopeful that the new Ascend curriculum adopted last year for K-3 will be approved.
To provide experiential experience, Lanesboro will be offering an added full-year course in psychology. The Fillmore County Health Department will be presenting to staff on their workshop day the trends in mental health and substance abuse.
The district is in the process of completing an application for a grant to purchase two electric buses at almost $400,000 each to be used as route buses. If the grant is approved, the school would be getting rid of two older, less energy efficient buses as required by the grant.
Schultz presented to the Minnesota education commissioner regarding the fact that schools are losing potential teachers to other higher paying professions. He stressed the need to look at how to fill those teaching positions long term.
The transition to the new website and app (Apptegy) has been going well. Schultz shared that Apptegy has been very responsive as they work through the change.
Schultz informed the board that enrollment has increased to 449 for this year (last year was 433; the year before was 413). As a result, another 25 lockers were purchased. Additional high top tables and chairs were ordered after it was noticed that students and staff were using such furniture for increased educational conversations. New desks and chairs for the second grade have been ordered for the following year.
The remodeled drafting room is nearly ready for furniture. Kelly Printing has been contacted to create new signage for the front of the building. The old sign will be refurbished and hung by the bench in the front hallway.
In other business, the board:
•Hired Alexa Horihan as sixth grade teacher;
•Approved the guidelines and procedures for administering Naloxone, a drug that attacks opiate molecules in an overdosed person;
•Tabled the athletic training service agreement since no contract was available;
•Approved seven updated school policies;
•Approved the Polka Dot Dairy milk bid;
•Accepted donations of $750 for golf, $1,000 for basketball, and $410,200 for scholarships.
The next Lanesboro School Board meeting will be September 13 at 7 p.m. in the forum; the public is welcome to attend.