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Rushford-Peterson School Board: Board discusses land, facility options


Fri, Sep 22nd, 2006
Posted in Education

An offer to purchase more land from local businessman Richard Holle prompted a lengthy facilities discussion at the regular R-P school board meeting last Monday.

Holle offered the district the chance to purchase a forty-plus parcel of land, previously slated for housing development, across from the current school property. The consensus of the board seemed to be that, while they badly need funding for any future building or remodel project, they do not need more land at this time.

But the question remains over whether the current property adjacent to the athletic fields is buildable. The state approved the building site at the time of the purchase, then a different official declined to give his full support several years later. Meanwhile, soil borings done in 2004 led to the conclusion that the land is a "better than average" building site.

Superintendent Miller feels the earlier approval, then disapproval by the state is unfortunate because it has resulted in "distrust and communication problems" locally.

A discussion ensued wherein members expressed by-now familiar opinions. Jim Kitchens, filling in as chair for the absent John Nitecki, seemed to express the majority's view when he said, "We have to at least start looking at options. Sooner or later, we're going to find something we can do."

Kitchens and Chuck Eidenschinck both favor investigating the possibility of remodeling the Peterson building and moving the entire elementary school there. But both would also like to seek staff input on whether this is a wise decision. Eidenschinck said that if the staff doesn't favor the move, he'd "drop" the idea.

George Ingram is against the idea of moving the elementary to Peterson. Continually fixing the old buildings, and maintaining two sites is a "burden to the taxpayer," he said. But he is also against the move because there is currently no clinic, fire or police department located in Peterson and elementary students "are our most vulnerable."

Jon Peterson disliked the whole conversation and wanted to know "why" anything has to be done regarding facilities, when, in his opinion, "the Peterson building is functioning fine as is," and all current facilities should be fine for at least another "10-15 years down the road."

A number of others offered answers to Peterson's "why":

Kitchens stated that, "We're limited by our current buildings." For example, Kitchens has long favored all-day kindergarten, but it couldn't be done currently because of "space limitations."

Miller fears that the state will intercede at some point and force the district to close old buildings with very little notice, and "we can't sit here with blinders on and say we're going to be in this building (1906 high school) for another 10-15 years."

Roger Metz said that the subject of problematic school facilities has come up at various business and community meetings, and that improving the facilities is a priority to some in local business. "These (business) people need to be involved in our facility planning."

Peterson, Eidenschinck, and Kitchens all expressed a desire to look into selling the school's current property, but had different ideas about what to do with the money. Ingram said he's against selling that land because of its ideal proximity to the school's athletic fields. Metz would not support selling the land unless the district had a specific alternate facilities plan in place.

Kitchens may have expressed the frustrations of the group best at the end of the discussion. What bothers him about the whole facilities issue "is that we should be getting more information from the state, like 'here's what you can do.' But we never get that (information and direction from the state). So it's left up to seven common people doing the best they can."

Prior to the facilities discussion, the board

• Accepted the resignation of Boys' Baseball Coach, Jon Pettit.

• Gave their consent to an "early out" for staff development on Nov. 2, at the request of Burt Svendsen for the purpose of a new program in "curriculum mapping."

• Approved Miller's recommendation, as in previous years, of the maximum levy amount for 2006, payable 2007, which can still be adjusted by December.

• Viewed a new $2,000 xylophone donated to the school by Lee Loerch in memory of his brother, Dick.

• Learned that 2006 total enrollment at R-P schools is higher than expected 671, up from the projected 657.

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