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Rushford-Peterson School Board: Superintendent to pursue funding for new school

Fri, Oct 19th, 2007
Posted in Education

RUSHFORD - "There's no time like the present" is Rushford-Peterson superintendent Chuck Ehler's attitude toward his suggestion that the district attempt to work with local legislators to develop a special financial package for the building of a new school.

Most of the board seemed surprised by Ehler's suggestions. Jim Kitchens said that "unless they're (the state) going to change the funding formula so that they provide more than the 33% a new school is out of the question."

"There's no way this district could afford the other 66%," Kitchens said.

"I agree with you," Ehlers said. "No one in his right mind would say 'we'd like to raise your taxes' to this district right now, but what I'm saying is that there might be other avenues to pursue."

Only the lower floor of the Rushford building was damaged in recent floods, but the idea of replacing the buildings, particularly the 1906 building, has long been a topic of discussion. The district attempted a new school bond vote in 2001, which was soundly defeated.

Ehler said he's already spoken with state senator Sharon Ropes, and is willing to attempt to enlist the help of others at both the state and federal level to work out a special financial package in light of the flooding that recently devastated the area.

Ehler encouraged the board to act quickly if they're interested in "giving it a try," and they agreed unanimously. A meeting to discuss the issue has been set up for Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 6:30 p.m. in the high school biology room. The public is welcome.

Ehler gave his usual "Flood Update" and reported that donations for the school's recovery continue to flow in from many school groups, the football officiating crew from the home game against Caledonia, and the Joan Tischer Charitable Fund.

The total of donations received to the school is $33,498.28, according to Ehler. He says the plan is to wait awhile, as long as donations are still coming in, and then enlist the help of staff in deciding how the funds could best be spent.

The reconstruction phase of the school's lower level has begun with local contractor Terry Lesser taking the lead. The goal is for the Community Education Office and Teacher's Workroom to be finished by November 3.

The architecture firm of Kane and Johnson is completing specs on the music room reconstruction, with the idea that bids will be taken for this project in early November.

In conjunction with the WCCO Broadcast from the gymnasium three weeks ago, the Lockheed Martin corporation has given the district a grant of $12,000 from their Education Philanthropic Budget. The money must be used to purchase "technology enhancements or materials/equipment for our K-12 math and science programs," according to Ehler.

Other Business

In other business, the board:

• approved the purchase of a new phone system from Ace Communications. The school has exhausted the expansion opportunities of the current system, meaning that some teachers have no voice mail. The new system is portable and will cost $12,928.43. The money will come out of Deferred Maintenance funds that the district must spend by the end of the year, according to district secretary, Karen Thompson.

• congratulated high school principal/athletic director Brad Johnson on being inducted into the Hall of Fame at Augustana, Sioux Falls, S.D.

• changed parent/teacher conferences from November 8 to November 5 in the hopes that R-P's football team will still be in the play-offs.

• approved a leave of absence for custodian Paul Skalet for October 29-December 5.

• gave Ehler the go-ahead to apply for a grant from the Minnesota State High School League Foundation to assist students and school with flood relief efforts.

• set the next meeting for November 19 at the middle school in Peterson. The meeting will begin at 6:00 with the auditor's report, followed by the regular meeting, and will conclude with a walk-through of the middle school.

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