Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Lester Prairie school referendum discussion involves upgrades, not expansion
Sept. 13, 2010

By Ivan Raconteur

LESTER PRAIRIE, MN – A discussion during the Aug. 16 Lester Prairie School Board meeting that involved a possible referendum was about evaluating and improving the school’s existing facility, according to Superintendent Mike McNulty.

During that meeting, Gary Sabart of TSP presented information about a possible referendum in fall 2011.

The proposal included an approximately eight-week study to evaluate the educational adequacy of the school facilities.

If the board approves hiring TSP, the company would “evaluate what needs to be done to bring the school into the 21st century,” McNulty said.

He explained that this does not involve building something new. Instead, it would provide recommendations as to how the school can “take what you have and make it better,” McNulty said.

Electrical service is one example of something that would be reviewed.

McNulty explained that older buildings were not designed to accommodate the electrical and other wiring that is needed to support today’s technology.

Another area of concern is the school’s science labs. McNulty said science requirements have changed, and the school’s current labs need to be improved to meet the new standards.

McNulty explained that, if the board chooses to move forward with the proposal, and if the district moves forward with a referendum, it would not raise taxes, but would replace an existing levy that will be completed in 2012.

Another reason to look at the school’s needs at this time, despite the difficult economic conditions, according to McNulty, is that it is cheaper to do it now.

He pointed to the proposal from TSP. The new estimate of $20,000 is about half the cost of the proposal that the company made last December.

Another example is the gym divider curtain that the school recently purchased. McNulty said it would have cost more than $30,000 if purchased five years ago, but the cost was less than $15,000 this year.

“We are looking at how we can serve our kids the way they should be served,” McNulty said.

Sabart said he will put together a revised proposal that will show the scope of the work and the associated costs for the school board to consider.

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