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GCED presents timeline for facilities planning

The Red Wing School Board may be voting on Goodhue County Education District's long-range facilities plan as early as this fall, GCED Executive Director Cherie Johnson told the board Monday evening.

"We are out of space. They're needing to expand," Johnson said of GCED's current facilities. "We are at sort of a crossroads."

Currently, GCED operates out of two buildings in Cannon Falls — Riverside School and Wastedo School — and one in Red Wing — Jefferson School. For the coming year, the district also has leased space in Twin Bluff Middle School in which to operate its mid-level alternative learning program.

However, Johnson said those buildings are no longer functioning efficiently and they have extensive maintenance needs.

"We are facing large amounts of deferred maintenance and educational adequacy issues," she said.

In an update to the board, Johnson recapped the progress the GCED has made in its facilities planning process so far. Last year, the district hired consulting firm Springsted to conduct a study of its current buildings and make suggestions moving forward.

That study was completed in June, and a copy of the report was included in Monday's School Board packet.

From that study, the GCED board determined to look further into consolidating its services into one building. To do so, it is exploring three options: renovating the current Wastedo building, building an entirely new building at the Wastedo site or building a new building on land adjacent to Red Wing High School.

Johnson said GCED is working on phase two of the Springsted study where potential construction costs will be looked at. The district also will determine potential cost savings — in transportation, staffing and operations — for both the Wastedo and RWHS sites.

Johnson said she and Springsted will present the results of that study to the GCED board at its October meeting.

"If they make a decision that night, will go out to the five boards," Johnson said, referencing the five school districts that make up GCED — Red Wing, Goodhue, Cannon Falls, Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Kenyon-Wanamingo.

Funding for any new facility would come from each member district's lease levy, GCED business manager Jackie Paradis said.

"We don't have tax capacity. We would be using member districts' lease levies," she said.

That would raise property taxes. Paradis that for Red Wing residents, the lease levy could raise taxes by about $19 a year on a $100,000 house.

However, before that can happen, Johnson said that GCED will need to get approval from all five member boards.

"We need unanimous support from all boards. That's what we have decided," she said.

If the five boards agree on a plan by December, Johnson said the new building could be ready to open by 2015.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.