With a final copy of a joint powers agreement ready to be signed, the Rushford-Peterson School Board once again discussed the proposed HVED (Hiawatha Valley Education District) building purchase at their regular meeting August 21.
Before beginning the discussion of the agreement, Superintendent Ben Bernard declared, “I really do believe this (the joint powers agreement necessary to purchase the Winona Mall) would be a good thing to do for our students.” He felt, however, that HVED had moved quickly on this purchase, and he wanted to maintain transparency during the process with the R-P community. “People need to trust that we aren’t moving too quickly. We need to ask questions and put the information on our website.”
Bernard informed the board that he’d created a tax impact calculator that can estimate individual tax increases that the building purchase would incur. He suggested that the board table the vote until Monday, August 28 so people could contact the school in the meantime with questions and to find out their own estimated tax impact.
HVED Executive Director Deb Marcotte was present to answer questions from the board. Nancy Snyder asked if the building was too small already. She thought they were also talking about leasing other buildings as well.
Marcotte answered that the building was 83,000 square feet and was not too small. The heavy remodeling will be taking place on two sides of the building to house the SAIL and SPECTRUM programs. Some of middle of the building as well as the southeast corner of the building will be leased to other entities. This will create income for HVED. Other buildings currently leased or owned by HVED would no longer be needed. The administration office could be sold and HVED would no longer need to lease the other buildings.
Snyder clarified with Marcotte that all students enrolled in HVED programs would be transported to the central Winona location. Marcotte said that would be the case, but that would save on busing and drivers since currently there are several routes crossing the area traveling to Hokah and Kellogg from students’ home schools.
Marcotte explained that the purchase price of the property was reduced when a parking lot not needed by HVED was sold to another buyer.
In reply to a question, Marcotte informed the board that HVED has been helped through the process thus far by general contractor Krause Anderson. If the building is purchased, the company would have to bid the project just as other companies could do.
Marcotte shared the hard numbers of the project. The maximum total expense will be $15 million with a $4.2 million purchase price.
HVED hopes to purchase the building at the end of August and hopes to be able to finish the necessary remodeling so they can use the building by the fall of 2024-2025 school year.
The board tabled the vote on the joint powers agreement until Monday, August 28 and encouraged the public to contact the school with any questions or concerns.
Athletics and Activities
Activities Director John Loney reported to the board that HUDL cameras have been installed for a trail run in the high school gym. There are three cameras in a box; each shoots about a third of the gym. The cameras follow movement. According to Loney, the scoreboard and clock can be added to the stream which then goes on R-P’s YouTube channel. Audio play by play could be added, and ads could be included.
Loney shared that R-P, Lewiston-Altura, and Houston will be meeting to consider a possible co-op for dance. If they decide to do the co-op the team will remain in single A for dance.
Lewiston-Altura has contacted R-P asking to join R-P and Houston for track. MSHL said such a co-op would still remain in single A. The three schools will meet to discuss this as well. Any changes or suggestions will be brought to the school boards by October.
Concurrent Enrollment/College Credits Update
MSHS principal, Mr. Timm shared that concurrent enrollment classes which give students both R-P and college credit include Statistics, College Algebra, English 12, College Speech, Sociology, and Chemistry. Every student will be able to earn 12 credits for English 12 and Chemistry which are required by R-P for graduation; a lot are receiving 10–30 college credits.
Articulate courses for CTE classes also offer college credits for Child Development I and II and Welding. Under a new agreement with Good Shepherd Lutheran Services, students can work at GSLS and receive a ½ credit toward high school graduation for every 175 hours worked.
In other business the board:
•Approved the safe learning plan required because the school is still spending COVID funds;
•Set the Truth in Taxation meeting for Monday December 18;
•Set the organizational meeting and regular board meeting for January 8;
•Approved hiring of Smith Schafer for the 2022-2023 audit;
•Heard a clarification from Dr. Bernard that the Booster Club is not part of the uniform contract with BSN; it will remain independent and not partner online with BSN.
The next meeting of the R-P School Board will be a special one to vote on the HVED agreement; the next regular meeting of the board will be September 18 at 6 p.m. The public is welcome.