Since the article titled “School board looks to new referendum” in the January 26 edition of the Star Eagle was published, I have responded to questions regarding the School Board’s intentions for a new referendum. The headline in the January 26 Star Eagle was misleading. The action of the Board of Education (BOE) at the January 17 School Board meeting was specific to conducting a facility assessment for the purpose of obtaining information to determine any necessary next steps to address facility needs now and in the future. There was no action or even mention by the BOE to consider a new referendum. At the same time, the BOE acknowledges and values the results of the community survey from a year ago that concluded a high percentage of community members and staff (77%) believe facility improvements are needed.
There are six focus areas that the Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (SPAC) identified to achieve our vision of being “the school district of choice, inspiring excellence in academics, arts, and activities.” Within the focus area of Facilities, specific goals and objectives were identified to ensure that the facilities and infrastructure of the school district optimize staff performance and student learning in a safe, sustainable, and attractive environment. One of the goals is to complete an assessment of all district facilities by September 2017, and use the information from the assessment to determine short-and long-term facility needs. The SPAC identified the assessment as the next step in responding to the June 2015 referendum vote as well as the results from the February 2016 Community Survey.
At the January 17, 2017, School Board meeting, the BOE approved a recommendation by the Building and Grounds Committee to partner with ISG, an architecture and engineering firm based out of Mankato, to conduct a thorough assessment of all District facilities at a cost of $12,500. ISG will not only conduct a study of the physical buildings and grounds, it will closely examine how the facilities will accommodate and support the educational needs of our students for many years into the future.
The BOE looks forward to learning of the findings from the facility assessment, and then determining next steps. The BOE has expressed a desire to engage staff, parents, students, and other community members in examining the findings of the assessment and make recommendations to the BOE on what to do next. Perhaps at that time, a potential next step will be to look to “a new referendum.”
A reminder that the School Board conducts its regular monthly meeting on the third Monday of each month. The location of the meeting is rotated monthly between the NRHEG Secondary School Media Center in New Richland and the NRHEG Elementary School Media Center in Ellendale. The February 21, 2017, School Board meeting will be at the Secondary School beginning at 6:30 pm, and the March 20, 2017 School Board meeting will be at the Elementary School beginning at 6:30 pm. The February 21 School Board meeting is scheduled on Tuesday due to the President’s Day holiday on February 20.
We celebrate together in the accomplishments of our students because we are in this journey together as a school community. Thank you for all you do to support NRHEG Public Schools and our students.