Herald and Journal, Aug. 27, 2001

HLWW forms committee to oversee possible consolidation

By Lynda Jensen

The formation of a new committee to oversee a potential consolidation with Lester Prairie highlighted a meeting with the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school board last Monday.

The committee, comprised of seven members, will meet with Lester Prairie the week of Sept. 10, Superintendent Riley Hoheisel said.

Committee members will reflect an identical committee formed by Lester Prairie, including the superintendent (ex-officio), two board members, one teacher, one support staff member and two community members. A committee is also being formed by Glencoe Silver Lake, with the same purpose, and same number of people.

Members of the committee are: Hoheisel, Jim Fowler and Randy Heuer, teacher Chad Gagnon, a non-teaching staff member that is yet to be determined, and two people representing the community Mary Pettit and Rob Merritt.

There was an awkward moment as the board approved the committee members, because it was not disclosed who they were. This was because the members had not been notified yet, Acting Board Chair Randy Heuer said.

"I would like to know who the people are," board member Kirk Jensen said. He was passed a list.

"What if they turn it down, and there we sit?" Board Member Rick Lammers asked.

"Then people can call Rick Lammers," Heuer said shortly.

"No, no, no," Lammers said.

In addition, there was a great deal of discussion about the committee's make up, since it had two members to represent three communities.

Board member Ken Zimmerman insisted on adding another community representative to represent Waverly. "It is no more than right," he said. "What you're going to do is alienate Waverly even more," he said.

Jensen suggested using the staff member position to also represent Waverly, although it was pointed out that staff in Waverly do not all necessarily live there, and that this might be a problem.

Heuer objected, saying that the school district promised Lester Prairie a 50-50 partnership, and that this would skew that.

A motion was made by Leo Weber to accept the committee as originally suggested.

Zimmerman amended the motion to add a representative for Waverly This was seconded by Gene Lorentz. The amended resolution was defeated by a vote of 5-3. Those in favor were Zimmerman, Lorentz, and Jensen. Those against were Charles Weber, Raymond, Lammers, Leo Weber, and Heuer. Jim Fowler was unable to attend the meeting.

The original resolution was offered again and passed by a vote of 6-2, with Charles Weber, and Lammers dissenting.

"The people on the committee are representative of the various points of view," Heuer said "although supportive of consolidation."

It was noted by some board members that the committee meetings are public, but that the committee is not required to accept input from non-committee members.

Some board members expressed misgivings about the time element, since the school must submit its plans for the new high school to the state soon, in order to obtain the $6 million in grant money if the school consolidates with Lester Prairie, or risk waiting another two years until the bonding cycle is available again.

"If we miss this November, then we'll have to wait another two years," Zimmerman commented.

"I don't want to be pulled along and then have them decide not to (commit)," Jensen said.

"They can back out anytime," Zimmerman said.

"I would like to actually know what their board thinks," Jensen said. "I mean, are they even interested in putting it on the ballot?" he asked.

"There's a lot of things that need to be discussed," Heuer said. "We don't want to rush too much; on the other hand, we've got to get done."

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