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Guest Commentary: Dear Future facilities committee, Please do not forget the message the voters sent you last November


By Brett Kues

Fri, Nov 1st, 2013
Posted in All Commentary

By Brett Kues

Have you been to the school website lately? I have. I went to the site for a couple reasons. First, I wanted details on the plans to repair, expand, and rebuild our current schools (option 3). I was a little put off by the cost, $18-$26 million is a lot of money. However, compared to the other options listed, $18.2 million is nearly half the price of building a new EC-3/7-12 school ($35.64M - option 10). Over the last year, I have come to accept that the school board is going to continue the perennial referendum until they get a ‘yes’ vote, and if that is an accepted reality, then it is my opinion, the best plan, and one of the lower cost plans presented is to repair and update what we have. The other reason I visited the school site was because I wanted to see if there was an update on House Bill 306. This bill would appropriate $20 million to the district for repair of the school due to damage from the flood. This is a great bill, and kudos should go out to Sen. Jeremy Miller and Mr. Ehler for getting it in front of the house for the 88th legislature. If passed, this bill would allow the district to update our current schools with little or no cost to the tax payers depending on which heating option was chosen.

In all there were a total of 10 options listed on the report from ATS&R. The cost for the options range from $0 to do nothing, an option that I believe is no longer available to us because of the deteriorated state “we” have allowed our schools to reach, to $35.6 million if you build a new EC-3/7-12 on Eiken Drive and keep Peterson open. Option 3 is the option I support, and I was optimistic it may have a chance to reach us for a vote until I took the time to read the minutes from the October 9 meeting. I was surprised to read the direction of the committee seems to be heading back in the same direction of the referendum we voted down less than a year ago. The reason the committee is going in this predictable direction, is the result of a recent survey.

Apparently the committee has conducted a survey which points to a direction the board should consider. The only problem is the survey, like most, is biased, based on the pool in which it was conducted. The committee did not poll the general population, or even a sampling of it, instead, they surveyed each other. I will not go into the absurdity of this. In this “survey” they came up with three options. You will not be surprised to hear that every option abandoned our current, stately, building and were the three highest priced options presented to them; $32.3-35.5 million.

In the minutes, the committee was broke down into subgroups to discuss the pros and cons of each plan, while many good points were made on both sides. One obvious negative was not discussed by any group. So I respectfully submit one more listing under the CON category. Since there is nothing listed in the cost summary for destruction of the current property; a large abandoned building right in the middle of town that is sure to turn into an eyesore as neglect and decay over take it and it crumbles to the ground is certainly a large CON.

The only good I gleamed from the committee minutes was that two of the five sub groups did choose to analyze other options and one of them was to repair, rebuild and expand our current building. They put together an impressive list of Pro’s, but missed one, if the board decided to repair and upgrade existing buildings, a portion of the cost could be offset by the sale of unneeded property. To the subgroup who chose to analyze this option, I offer you congratulations; it appears you have not lost the message given to you at the last referendum vote. To the school board, I invite you to place the survey on the website, and in the paper for people to cut out, take, and return. If you do this right, you can be certain you will have a more comprehensive view of the direction you should take.

Comments:







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4231

11:57:49, Nov 4th 2013

Sharon Rustad says:
Mr . Kues:

In your commentary this week you have some very viable arguments. But let me ask a few questions from you.

Have you ever toured the R-P facilities? Last year you stated you "had not". The community was asked to participate on this task committee this past summer. During those months of meetings, I never saw you take any interest in attending to learn ALL the facts. We also missed 1 board member who chose not to attend.

If you are so interested in the school, why aren't you ever present at the meetings so you get all the facts straight. There is a lot more to this issue other than money!!



4232

2:00:29, Nov 4th 2013

bkues says:
Mrs. Rustad,

Yes, I have had the opportunity to take a tour of the school. I was very fortunate to receive a private tour from Mr. Ehlers. It was the result of this tour that has me convinced the school is in need of major repairs, and that the option to do nothing is no longer a viable option.

As for attending the committee meetings, I am not on the committee and am unaware of them being open to the public. I was invited to one, but sadly was out of town and could not attend. I would be thrilled to be part of the committee or to attend meetings.

If another invitation is forthcoming I would consider attending, but feel it may be more of a distraction than constructive.
Brett


4234

7:48:08, Nov 4th 2013

Andy Prinsen says:
Mr. Kues, I am sad to see that you had to write another commentary without knowing all of the facts. It is hard to put all of the information on the website. As more information is presented, you will be informed of why we came to the decision we did. It is unfortunate that you did not notice the search for committee members on the school website as it was open to the public. We needed your input at the meetings instead of in the paper. I would be happy to go through things in person if you are willing to take the time. A lot of time was put into the committee meetings so please don't degrade it anymore than you already have.


4235

8:53:43, Nov 4th 2013

intentions#exposed says:
Brett, I wish you would just come clean with your true intentions.Why don't you want to see a new school built. Maybe it's purely a selfish motive. It's a pretty big coincidence that you are in the process of building a big fancy house. Maybe you're soley thinking about yourself and not wanting your property taxes to go up. Maybe you should think of what's best for the community. Start being a part of the solution instead of part of the problem!


4236

9:12:59, Nov 4th 2013

dedicatedtocommunity says:
Brett, once again you claim to know everything without knowing all the facts. The committee was open to anyone interested in serving on it. But i guess you were too busy to serve on it, but you're not too busy to write derogatory commentaries that sabotage the hard work of others. The committee met for a total of 15 hours to intensely study not only our facilities but where education is headed. They looked at planning for the future in the long-term not 5-10 years out. The 1906 building could be repurposed for a variety of different things. Think outside the box. Winona and Lanesboro are examples of repurposing their old buildings for different uses like apartment buildings. Please take the time to get educated before thinking you know it all. I didn't know taking one short tour of the facilites made you an expert on it.


4239

7:05:56, Nov 5th 2013

Kues' Character? says:
Oct. 12

9:45 a.m. - Brett Evan Kues, 40, of Rushford, Minn., was cited for disorderly conduct. Officers responded to Winona Senior High School for a report Kues threatened to hurt the ex-husband of his current significant other while at a wrestling tournament.

Source: http://www.winonadailynews.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/article_6800905a-0322-11e0-a59c-001cc4c002e0.html


4246

3:57:24, Nov 6th 2013

MNFarmboy says:
Mr. Kues, the bill you mentioned about the district receiving $20 million from the State is dead and needs to be re-introduced during next years session. The bill never made it out of the committee it was assigned to.


4715

11:50:51, Nov 12th 2013

Sharon Rustad says:
Mr. Kues:

Just for the record the invitation to join the Task Force Committee meetings was published in the Tri-County Record and was also available on line at the R-P website. It was open to the public if you chose to be apart of it. I would suggest you call Mr. Ehler yourself and ask to be "personally invited" to attend future meetings.

Sharon Rustad