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Delano’s public schools are faced with overcrowding

March 17, 2008

by Jen Bakken

Delano Public School District will have a bond election Tuesday, April 22, and I urge you to become informed and vote.

In November 2007, the district held an election with three questions on the ballot:

Question one was for an operating levy to finance the operations of a new grades 4-6 building,

Question two was a bond referendum for the construction of a grades 4-6 building and the purchase of 13 acres of property adjacent to the campus, and question three was for additional physical education/athletic fields, synthetic turf for the football field, community education building upgrades, and air conditioning for the cardio and weight room in the Tiger Activity Center.

Unfortunately, question one was the only of these three to pass. The district did not levy for the approved funds since it was designated for the operation of the 4-6 building and because question two did not pass.

On April 22, the bond election will ask two questions; question one will be to approve the purchase of the land for the new elementary building, and question two will be to provide funds for the construction of the building, additional high school science rooms, additional middle and high school music rooms, security, and other facility improvements.

The facts about this important referendum have been distributed by the school district through the mail, on the district’s web site, and through the Vote Yes Committee. If you are unsure or have questions, please seek more information.

Visit the school district web site at www.delano.k12.mn.us, the Vote Yes Committee web site at www.delanovoteyes.org, visit the schools, or talk to teachers and staff.

I feel it is our duty as residents of Delano to help the district maintain its goal of educational excellence for our children and our community as a whole.

The school district is the reason I have stayed in Delano. When I began having children, I knew I wanted them to attend the wonderful schools here.

Now, with three children attending classes in the public schools, I am reminded daily that I made a good decision for my children and their future.

It is clear to me that School District No. 879 not only meets, but also surpasses its goal to maintain educational excellence, but I am concerned about the district’s ability to maintain this goal with the current overcrowding issues.

All school buildings currently exceed the capacity for which they are designed, and enrollments will continue to increase.

The need for a new elementary school will not go away, and will actually become more expensive if action is not taken now.

In the March/April edition of the Delano High School newsletter, high school principal Matt Schoen said the high school has reached a critical juncture over the past two years regarding space limitations.

District No. 879 Superintendent Dr. John Sweet has a blog at suptslog.blogspot.com where you can make comments, ask questions, and get information regarding the upcoming election.

Middle school principal Renee Klinkner posted on this blog stating there are 713 students currently enrolled in the middle school. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find rooms available for classes, activities, and meetings.

A new 4-6 building will allow the fourth grade to move from the existing elementary to the new building, freeing up at least seven classrooms there.

The fifth and sixth grades would move from the existing middle school to the new building.

This frees up space in all three buildings and allows the high school to move into the middle school over time.

Based on the facts, the overcrowding in the schools, and the importance of helping the district to maintain its goal of educational excellence, I am voting yes.

In my opinion, the facts prove the schools are overcrowded, and we need to take action now.

I urge you to become informed and vote yes Tuesday, April 22.