Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 5, 2004

Committee will recommend HLWW operating levy for fall, new high school at later date

By Lynda Jensen

It appears likely that voters in the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District will be asked about an operating levy in the fall, with a new high school being pursued later, if the HLWW school board approves a recommendation from the committee of the whole, which met March 18.

The committee of the whole is a collection of three subcommittees formed several months ago to address long term facilities, population growth and building issues, composed of HLWW board members and private individuals.

Those who attended the meeting were: Kathy Peterson, Jack Littfin, Mike Ollig, MaryLou Swedberg, student representative Rachael Menden, Al Moy, Dave Sherman, Sheri and Dean Klinkner, Robin and Mike Day, Pam Henry-Neaton, Supt. George Ladd, Board Members Charles Weber, Charlie Borrell, Dan Schaible,, and Tom Hammer.

The group spent the evening discussing the future building proposals, Hammer commented.

“The district has a need to increase taxes to just operate what we have. If this isn’t passed the school will go into debt within two years,” he said.

“The focus for November should be on the basic operating needs of the district,” Hammer noted in a summary of the meeting.

This includes the portable classrooms, which are intended to get the district through a tight spot until long term, permanent facilities can be found.

Portable update

The board will be interviewing three architects starting this week for the long-range facility design, with selection in mid-April.

The desire is to have one architect, but that will depend on the interviews.

There was also discussion as to the plans and timing of moving, and the impact on teachers, among other subjects. “ It was thought that much of the move could be coordinated through volunteers and FFA,” Hammer noted.

Designs and bids will pertain to four portables at Waverly and Winsted, and six portables at the two sites to see what the cost difference is for added rooms (a total of 12 portables was approved by the board early in the year).

The length of the lease will be somewhat dependent on the future building plans, Hammer noted.

New electives

Another benefit of the portables (other than providing more space) is that the district is allowed to offer more electives.

The board has approved 2.5 additional teachers for next school year - primarily for the math No Child Left Behind requirements and other science needs. In the last registration 20 new electives were offered to the students – not all of which will be run due to low sign up on some and other conflicts.

Based on the new curriculum and current staff, administration is now better able to identify the teacher needs for the next school year, he said.

The curriculum director and administration will further refine new electives, along with curriculum needs and staff availability, to offer curriculum in the future that best suits the education of the students in our district.

New school along County Road 6?

During the meeting, a great deal of informal discussion took place, with the consensus being an emphasis on the need for a new high school, Hammer said.

“This should be built south of Highway 12 somewhere on County Road 6,” Hammer commented.

Committee members pointed out that this is what the old task force had come up with too, being the same need.

“Many felt that getting a land agreement in place is important and should be the first thing we do, even before the November election,” he said.

Some felt that the sole focus for the November ballot should be the operating levy and nothing else (not even a land agreement), he said.

“A key question is how a land agreement will impact the voters regarding the operating levy needs,” he said.

“The progression of building needs should be high school, middle school and then elementaries,” Hammer noted.

The board should define criteria for when each step should be implemented based on student population, etc. It was also discussed that due to explosive growth in the district, city lines will change and what now looks like a location in the “middle” may change in years to come as the town will grow to it.

Everyone at the committee meeting agreed that a building bond should not appear on the November ballot and realized the importance of getting the operating levy passed, Hammer said.

It was suggested that board members visit city council meetings and township meetings to explain what is going on now, and in the future (once it’s known).

“We discussed whether we could maintain costs at four sites if a new building was built or whether we would have to make a hard choice to stop operating at one of the existing buildings,” Hammer said. “A consensus was not reached here.”

There was a suggestion that the school name be changed and that might help bring the communities together.

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