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Jefferson discussion to be held in closed session

The deadline for proposals ended March 5 for the Jefferson School Building. Proposals will be discussed at the March 18 School Board meeting after a closed session. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia

Red Wing School Board will hold discussions on the possible sale of the Jefferson School Building in closed session on March 18.

The decision was made during the March 4, at which board members discussed, but did not need to take action on, the needs of holding the matter in closed session.

After speaking with the district's attorney, Superintendent Karsten Anderson said they've been carefully analyzing the steps, calling the potential building sale "a learning process."

The attorney recommended holding the discussion in closed session. While discussion can be held during a closed session, a vote can't be done until it is brought back to open session, as per state law.

A request for proposals has been open for a month, ending on March 5. Instead of having every proposal available for the public to review, Anderson said having information related to who or what group made the proposal, what the dollar amount was and what the property would be used for could be released to the public.

"I'm always a fan of transparency," Anderson said. "I think it's better just to lay everything out there, but in this case with questions, the way that things are written and interpreted by different people, my suggestion is to go in closed session."

Previously the board had discussed allowing proposals to be discussed by the Operations Committee, then that group would make a recommendation to the full board. However, Anderson and other board members agreed having a full board discussion instead of having it discussed during an Operations Committee meeting.

Chair Arlen Diercks said he would like to see this information public, but agreed that, based on state statute, having a closed session would benefit the board's discussion.

At the March 4 meeting, five individuals spoke about what they would like to see done with the property. Most spoke about the benefit the school and it's green space have in the neighborhood, with another addressing the possible location as a long-term drug treatment center.

Prior to the board's discussion, Brian Peterson, special project manager for the city of Red Wing, talked about zoning and the 2040 plan as it relates to Jefferson School. Peterson said many citizens expressed interest in land use and future development during the 2040 plan information gathering process.

The Jefferson building on Buchanan Street was built in 1917 and closed as an elementary school in 2003. Goodhue County Education District used the building several years before the River Bluff Education Center opened in 2015. Red Wing Public Schools used Jefferson for office space for several months in 2017 and 2018 during construction projects at other buildings.

Proposal opening

During the RFP opening process at 3 p.m. March 5, the district revealed only the names of the people and businesses who submitted, not the amount they are offering nor the purpose.

Due to the proposals being opened at this time, the following information was not able to make the print edition.

The following groups will be considered by the district and board:

• Keller-Baartman Properties LLC

• James and Jennifer Patterson

• Valley View Recovery Center

The March 18 School Board meeting will be 5:30 p.m. at Red Wing City Hall.

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2018 covering school board, public safety, and writing features. Lambert previously wrote for the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication: Journalism. 

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