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R-P begins "Yes Campaign" for facility referendum

Fri, Aug 19th, 2011
Posted in Education

Following direction from both the community and the Joint Facilities Task Force, the board intends to bring forth a referendum for the construction of a new early childhood through grade 12 facility to be located adjacent to the Ben Niggle Sports Complex. As it's currently written, the referendum would call for the district to borrow $8,900,000 for the purpose of supporting funds it hopes to secure through a Cooperative Facilities Grant in the amount of $20 million.

"We asked for community input and they gave it to us," noted board member John Nitecki, who also represents the Facilities Task Force. "At times we weren't comfortable asking our district for the funding, but they've indicated they want the board to move forward."

The referendum comes timed to seek funding from the state, as 2012 is a bonding year for the legislature. Though it is still unclear if the district will receive the funding, the district will bring the issue to referendum February 21 of next year. With a successful vote, the district could approach the governor with guaranteed local support. "This will strengthen our position at state," encouraged Superintendent Chuck Ehler.

There was some question as to if the community approves the referendum, but is denied state funding, the vote could be carried over. Ehler assured the board it would be for the 2012 bonding period only.

"The direction the task force gave us is, 'We have to go.' We've got to move forward," agreed board member Kathie Ingram.

Should the district approve the referendum, the next step would be the hiring of an architectural firm to proceed with preliminary design work.

In other news, the district has been approved by the Minnesota Department of Education to receive $96,943.65 in funding. The Alternative Delivery of Specialized Instructional Services (ADSIS) will assist the district in funding its K-5 interventionist program aimed at helping struggling students prior their needing to be evaluated for special education. "It's a chance to help those kids not meeting benchmarks," enthused Middle School Principal Luke Lutterman.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Monday, September 19, at 6:30pm, in the high school biology room. The public is encouraged to attend.

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