Herald JournalHerald Journal, March 24, 2003

Made on Earth building proposed for LP school expansion

By Julie Yurek

Looking towards the future of the Lester Prairie School District, Dean of Students Joe Miller proposed an idea that would give the district additional gym and storage space without costing millions of dollars.

Miller's idea was based on acquiring the Made on Earth building on Highway 7 and remodeling it into three gyms, a weight room, stage, and a community education classroom, he said.

The building is on nine acres, which could serve as practice fields and a track, he said. There is also an additional building on the property that could serve as a fieldhouse, he said.

"It probably wouldn't be for varsity teams, but everything under varsity could use it," he said.

By Miller's calculations a cost of $1.5 to $2 million would be needed to purchase the property and remodel it, he said.

The asking price for the property is $649,000, Miller said.

Supt. James Redfield brought up the issue of transportation and how the district is trying to keep those costs down.

Miller admitted there are some costs associated with the project, but that it is an option.

"The three-mile transportation to the facility would cost about $17,600 a year," Miller said. "It would probably take about 50 years before it would even come close to $10 million, the cost of the proposed addition to the existing school building."

The district would also have to research what the water and sewer system could handle, Miller said.

If the district remodels the existing school, the Made on Earth building would be a benefit to have because of the space that would be lost in remodeling, Miller said.

"We could get that building up and running, and then look into remodeling the classrooms in the school," Miller said.

Board member Bob Carlson encouraged the administration to look into the idea further and come up with a minimal cost of the project and bring it back to the board.

"I think it's a great option," said board member Chester Hoernemann.

Board member Nancy Krull agreed, saying "we have to look at all our options."

Redfield will talk to the State Department of Education about the requirements of remodeling the building, he said.

Kindergarten decision

The kindergarten schedule for the 2003-04 school year will stay every-day, half-day kindergarten.

Elementary Principal Pam Lukens gave a brief overview of meetings she and a committee of eight parents conducted with other parents to discuss the district's options.

The three options were to have a full-day, an alternating-day, or a half-day kindergarten program.

Ninty percent of parents favored the half-day program, Lukens said.

"Consistency and transportation were our two biggest concerns," Lukens said.

Carlson was in favor of going with what the parents want. "I don't think we can afford to lose any of those students," he said.

Blaser noted that half-day, every-day would cost the district money in transporting the students and that the alternating-day could save the district up to $10,000.

However, the alternating-day schedule concerned parents, Lukens said.

Transportation concerns were expressed about kindergarten students walking to and from school, she said.

Also, extra costs may have occurred due to an added paraprofessional.

The half-day program is a minimal cost if it keeps students safe from not having to walk, parent Steve Ziermann said after the meeting.

Lukens and the committee obtained information about options available in the area from other schools and visited kindergarten programs in Watertown-Mayer and Glencoe, Lukens said.

Watertown-Mayer has a three-day kindergarten program, but is offering a full-time program next year, Lukens said.

Glencoe has an all-day, every-day program where parents pay $400 a year for their child. There are five sections with 23 to 24 students in each class, she said.

Norwood-Young America has an all-day, every-day program, but may be looking at changes because of budget, Lukens said.

Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted has a half-day program, Hutchinson has alternating, and Dassel-Cokato starts the year with a half-day, every-day program for the first quarter, and then switches to a full-day Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursday and Fridays are half-days, she said.

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