Questioning the costs: Goodhue school survey results discussed

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GOODHUE — The Goodhue Facilities Planning Committee sent out an anonymous survey last month to all of the 949 voters from the May 8 referendum vote. On June 19, the committee discussed the results from the survey that showed voters on either side support building improvements, but question the costs associated.

Goodhue School District Superintendent Mike Redmond said after the meeting the survey gave the committee a solid response and that he appreciated the sincere feedback from the written responses.

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Redmond, along with School Board members, community members, a student and Goodhue School District employees, talked about the communications challenges they have encountered.

Survey results and responses

The survey asked voters whether they voted yes or no, along with three additional questions. Of the 949 voters, 352 responded, with 190 voting yes and 157 voting no. Five voters responded with an unknown vote.

The results of the survey are:

Respondents who voted YES

• Building improvements need to be made to the Goodhue School.

• YES: 187

• NO: 2

• I would prefer new construction even if it increases the total cost of the project to $45 million, or more.

• YES: 32

• NO: 134

• I would prefer to see the tax increases for a building project phased in over a period of five years rather than the full increase starting in year one.

• YES: 66

• NO: 88

Respondents who voted NO

• Building improvements need to be made to the Goodhue School.

• YES: 132

• NO: 9

• I would prefer new construction even if it increases the total cost of the project to $45 million, or more.

• YES: 10

• NO: 129

• I would prefer to see the tax increases for a building project phased in over a period of five years rather than the full increase starting in year one.

• YES: 53

• NO: 74

A number of voters also provided written responses to the questions.

One voter responded that they viewed voting yes as "the right thing to do," but also circled "no" when asked about an increase of the project to $45 million and whether they would prefer to see the tax increases phased over a period of five years rather than the full increase starting in year one. A yes voter said they were frustrated to hear from people who voted no while not providing alternative solutions.

One voter said they didn't feel some of the needs presented by the district were justified.

There also were respondents who voted no who suggested that, instead of going for another referendum, the district should consolidate with another school district.

"Scrap the whole plan and consider merging with the Zumbrota-Mazeppa system," one respondent said.

What do we do now?

Survey respondents took issue with the reasoning behind why a new gym was needed. The committee discussed how the gym, referred to as Gym 4, would be a replacement for another gym in the school. Committee members suggested clearly explaining the necessity of the gym, along with weight room improvements, for students to use.

Redmond said after the meeting the biggest surprise he ran into was about the school's Wildcat Care being misconstrued as a free day care service.

"I think the negative things were just things that we could've communicated better," Redmond said after the meeting. "What we offer is school-aged child care, which is used in spaces that already exist, it's a fee for service ... it's not a day care. And there's a big difference. I don't know where that misperception came from, but on our part, we need to do a better job communicating."

Committee members suggested reaching out to people in the community, whether they voted yes or no, to get honest feedback on what they would like to see. School Board Chair and committee member Ann Buck said they need to find a way to silence gossip and misinformation in Goodhue.

Frequent questions of deferred maintenance were discussed as well, with members saying the term "deferred" may be off-putting for some.

"I just think the phrase 'deferred maintenance' sounds like you're putting it off," Redmond said. "When really what you're talking about is replacing things that are very old. Systems that are 30 or more years beyond their typical life expectancy. Which I would argue is evidence of really good maintenance and really getting the most out of those things."

Committee member Rich Majerus said they need to communicate the tax implications of items like the gym addition and need to focus on how to understand the mindset of the person voting no to make a more universally liked and beneficial plan.

While the Goodhue School Board has not decided when the district will try for another referendum vote, Redmond said the committee and School Board are acting as if the referendum will be on the upcoming November ballot.

The Facilities Planning Committee will next meet 7 p.m. June 27 in the Media Center room. Jenni Tuttle, the lead architect on the school project, is scheduled to discuss options for the plan and be available to answer questions.