Herald and Journal, May 21, 2001

Cost to build new high school is higher now

By Lynda Jensen

The passage of time is having a sharp impact on cost for construction of a new high school, as discussed by the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school district during a special meeting Tuesday.

Inflation in the building market is the chief factor for an estimated 26 percent increase in the cost of a new school, according to the architect, said Superintendent Riley Hoheisel.

"It was more favorable two years ago," commented Board Member Jim Fowler, referring to the previous estimates for the school, which were based on 1999 numbers.

The meeting was also prompted by unofficial talks with the Lester Prairie school board, Hoheisel said.

Lester Prairie has asked for more specific numbers, commented Board Member Randy Heuer.

In a consolidation scenario with Lester Prairie, the school district could receive a $6 million grant from the state, Hoheisel said.

This is an impressive number when it comes to building a school in the $20 million range, Hoheisel said.

The talks with Lester Prairie have been very positive, Hoheisel said.

A consolidation vote must take place before the legislative session to give the grant to HLWW, Hoheisel said. This could be timed closely together, Hoheisel said.

According to his conversations with state officials, the $6 million state grant would be all but guaranteed, Hoheisel said.

Specific numbers given at the meeting included those shown in the boxed area.

The pool itself went from $2.4 million to $4 million, Fowler said. The commercial market for builders is saturated right now, Hoheisel said.

These numbers do not reflect a potential new Regional Ag/Science Center, Hoheisel said. They also do not reflect the indebtness of the Lester Prairie school district.

It was noted that property values in the district overall are going up, and that this distributes the tax burden in general.

Access to meetings and information

At the end of the meeting HLWW junior Sarah Williams, representing the student council, asked the school board to call a special meeting to distribute more information about the school site location.

"People have been asking to be more informed," Williams said.

In fact, it was noted by attendees of the Howard Lake City Council, which met for its regular meeting that same night - three blocks away - that the school board regularly schedules school site location meetings at the same time as the Howard Lake City Council, for whatever reason.

Traditionally, Monday holidays bump the school board into Howard Lake meetings, but special meetings for both in the past few months, ever since the Winsted site was chosen, have not been a factor that would cause this.

"I wanted to go to that meeting (the special school board)," Howard Lake Clerk Gene Gilbert said.

Hoheisel indicated that the conflict wasn't intentional, although it is unknown if the district will accommodate future meetings.


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