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Board agrees to build on task force report

For the next six to 12 months the Red Wing School Board will dedicate time during at least one meeting per month to develop a plan for the future of Red Wing Public School’s facilities.

Board members talked at length Monday night about how to best proceed with the process of long-range facilities planning and the potential to prepare a referendum for fall 2015 after receiving the School Facility Task Force final report at their last meeting.

Don Lifto, Springsted client representative who helped facilitate the School Facility Task Force meetings over the last several months, told board members if they dedicate two to three hours each month to facilities planning alone they should be prepared for a referendum in close to a year.

While the board didn’t vote on anything regarding facilities planning during Monday’s discussion – Supt. Karsten Anderson said the board most likely will finalize procedure for future workshops at the Aug. 18 meeting – they did come to some general agreement on a couple points, one being the importance of continued community involvement.

Lifto encouraged the board to start community engagement planning now, specifically with whom the board and district will engage, how they will do it and when.

One option Lifto put forth was a feasibility study to determine where the community stands on potential referendum questions.

Chair Heidi Jones agreed and said there’s no doubt in her mind community involvement is essential to the board’s planning process.

Another pressing issue concerning the state of district facilities, one which the task force said should be priority, is deferred maintenance.

Board member Mark Ryan said through the building tours the task force was able to see many of the maintenance issues that are not typically brought to light.

“We looked in the closets, we looked up in the attic, we looked under the rug and we looked where everybody doesn’t see and we saw how much work it’s taken for (maintenance staff) to keep those facilities running,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff under the rug and this hopefully will bring it out and allow us to take a real good look at it, because there’s a lot of work that needs to be done in this district and it should have been done yesterday.”

Jones said with the task force work complete, it is time for the board to do its part, but was cautious about rushing to finish by any preset deadline and wanted to make sure the job was done right.

“I want this to be a deliberative process,” Jones said.

The legal deadline for a November referendum is the third week in August, Lifto said.

The board tentatively set the first meeting of the month during which to conduct continued facility planning workshops.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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