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Talk of creating better buildings continues

John Huenink, vice president and director of education at Kraus-Anderson Construction, talked to the Red Wing School Board Tuesday about the plans for moving forward with the district’s long-range facilities planning.

Huenink said he hopes to get opinions from staff throughout the district to get a better idea of where some of largest needs may be.

A list of prioritized maintenance projects is being compiled, Huenink said, with the help of Kevin Johnson, director of grounds, facilities and technology.

Finance Director Brad Johnson said 11 classrooms at Sunnyside Elementary are inadequate, citing kindergarten classrooms need to be larger than 1,000 square feet and closer to 1,200 would be best.

Only two classrooms at Sunnyside are over 1,000 square feet and five are barely 900 square feet, he said.

Preliminary calculations show the cost for top priority projects within the district to be around $17.6 million, he said.

The longer the district holds off on projects, the more they will spend due to inflation alone, Huenink said.

“Some people don’t understand how quick inflation goes up,” he said, adding the difference could be around $5 million for projects delayed by six years.

Supt. Karsten Anderson said staff members know the buildings the best, so it would be helpful to have as much input from them as possible.

There will be many more meetings, Huenink said, with principals and staff to keep communication open.

A task force also will be implemented to generation discussion concerning the facilities and their future.

“When we create the task force, I also recommend of the 30 or 40 people that the principal or somebody represent their building … We want their voice,” Huenink said.

Along with representatives from the schools, and usually one School Board member, Huenink said ideally there would be 20 to 25 community members.

The intent of task force members to be representatives of their community, said School Board Chair Heidi Jones.

Board member Mark Ryan said the School Board is really looking ahead with the land deals around the high school and with some things in place it’s time to be fortuitous.

“We don’t know what education will be like in 2050, but let’s make it what we want in 2020,” Ryan said.

Facilities planning timeline

• September through November is project planning phase where the facilities along with maintenance will be reviewed, there will continue to be planning sessions with administrators, and work will begin on forming a task force.

• December through February will be the community input phase. This is when the taskforce will be formulated and study sessions will begin.

• March through April is scheduled as the project development phase. That includes a finalization of facility options and cost and a review of tax impact.

• Summer to fall begins the referendum activity phase of the planning. The School Board will set the referendum date, and there will be community outreach and district information campaign.