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R-P property "better than average"

Fri, Aug 25th, 2006
Posted in Education

RUSHFORD - "This is not the type of site we're worried about, not even remotely," said Colby Verdegan of Chosen Valley Testing when asked about potential sink holes in the school's property near the football field.

Board member Chuck Eidenschinck raised the question of sink holes at the regular August meeting of the Rushford-Peterson school board. Verdegan had performed soil bore testing on the site that was purchased more than years ago for a future new school building.

Since this is southeastern Minnesota with a lot of karst geography, experts like Verdegan deal in probabilities with sink holes, he said. As far as the school's property and sinkholes, Verdegan says there's about as "low of a probability (of sink holes) as you can find in the county."

This would seem like good news on the surface, but Verdegan's report did nothing to settle what has become a contentious issue: whether the district will build a new building generally, and, if so, whether on that property, specifically.

While Verdegan's report seems to concur with what state official Bob Buresch found in his report just prior to the failed referendum in 2002, it is in contrast with the report by state Education Finance specialist John Ryberg in 2004.

Ryberg, then new on the job, was not familiar with the report by Buresch, who had retired. Ryberg expressed concern based on his visual tour of the property in 2004. Citing comments from a group of citizens who toured the site with him, Ryberg, in his written letter to the district, wondered about the existence of sink holes and expressed concern over comments from a citizen that farm structures were buried on the property. Ryberg did not expressly give the area a negative review, but said that the district would need to hire a "qualified Architect/Engineer, to do a proper evaluation of the proposed building site for a quality site assessment and cost feasibility."

Ryberg had also wondered about the soil quality, but according to Verdegan, the site is, "better than average from a soil position." According to Verdegan, the site would probably need fill material, particularly in parking lot and gymnasium areas, but he says this is "comparable to school district's (sites) in the area."

Verdegan's report was an information-only item.

Jeff Miller informed the group about a meeting he'd attended at city hall with board member, Roger Metz, to discuss the school's property. At issue is the fact that a local developer would like to use the property for either above or below ground run-off water for a proposed housing development.

Jim Kitchens wondered why the district would agree to something like an open ditch that would devalue the property.

"They wonder if we'd sell it," Metz explained. "(But) before I would agree with that, I'd want to know what our future plans are.

"I don't think we could afford to develop this land," Eidenschinck opined.

"There's no decision required," Miller said. "I just thought you should have the information from the meeting."

Coaching Positions

The board considered a request from athletic director Brad Johnson for three coaches: 9th grade girls' volleyball, 9th grade girls' basketball, and 9th grade boys' basketball. Total salaries for the three positions would come to approximately $7,800. The positions fell victim to budget cuts several years ago. Johnson's request proved contentious, too.

Member Jon Peterson said, "With all due respect, the problem I have with him (Johnson) and how this is done-if someone volunteers and it's not staff or a relative of a staff member, they can volunteer to their heart's content. But as soon as it's staff, or a relative of staff, they want to get paid."

"What I'm saying," Peterson continued, "is if you're not a staff member or relative, he's not going to come ask for money for you."

"I'm not even going to 'go there'," Miller said.

David Boe objected to the request as well, saying that it seems like "an elite group of students," that benefit from sports because "there's too much emphasis on winning," and not enough on letting all students have playing time.

Miller asked the group to remember that not all students excel in academics, but that those same students may benefit from experiencing success on the playing field.

Chuck Eidenschinck offered an opinion often-expressed by different board members: that it would sure be nice to set an athletic budget once a year and let the athletic director divide out the funds without coming back to ask for any new funds throughout the year.

Kitchens, who was filling in as chair for the absent John Nitecki, countered that by providing participation numbers, and making official requests, Johnson had done everything the board asked of him.

The motion to approve Johnson's request was defeated in a tie vote.

In other business, the board:

• learned that the city of Rushford would need to cut into the school's front sidewalk while installing new street lights, and even though there was talk of the city and school district sharing the cost of a new sidewalk, the estimate of $8,000 seemed prohibitive to both groups. Without a brand new sidewalk, the district will still be responsible for approximately $800 in sidewalk restoration.

• approved a $4,524.95 request from Corey Mattson for a computer "smart" cart to house and transport the mobile computer lab in the elementary school. Funds for the computers themselves have already been raised by location individuals and organizations.

• accepted a gas bid (The Corner), milk bid (Rushford Foods), and bread bid (Sara Lee).

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