By Nancy Dashwood
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Dassel-Cokato Schools’ strategic planning committee, comprised of school board members, district staff, students, and volunteer community members, gathered April 26 to visit areas of the school which would be expanded and improved by the passage of a referendum in November.
The group started with a visit to the school’s industrial technology and family consumer science areas. Industrial tech teacher Steve Ellis told the group about the difficulty of working with many students in a small space, with outdated equipment.
In the family and consumer science area (FACS), Ellis talked about those teachers’ challenges to keep cooking ingredients and sewing supplies separated and clean within the same classroom.
In the parking lot closest to the school district office and early childhood education areas, Area Learning Center (ALC) Director Jon Nelson explained how having the ALC moved onto the high school campus would increase learning time for students, and also save significant amount of travel time and district money.
Nelson also elaborated on how ALC students could more easily access mainstream classes, as well as being able to provide more educational opportunities for night school students.
The strategic planning committee walked to the edge of the parking lot and made their way over the heavily rutted road behind the school building to the district’s multi-purpose building.
The district accepted the multi-purpose building as a donation late last year. Residents have been debating since then about how to best use the empty building for school purposes.
The strategic planning committee members moved to the middle school choir room to discuss ideas.
School Board Chair Rebecca Clemen presented what the board felt would be the best choice for the multi-purpose building a refrigerated ice facility to be used for playing hockey.
The committee launched into an informal question/answer/brainstorming session about all of the proposed changes.
A short list of the majority of those changes includes:
• continued industrial technology equipment overhaul;
• CNC milling machines and CNC lathe;
• Ag mechanics lab creation, including areas for teaching life skills, ag mechanics, and engine and robotics courses;
• middle school industrial tech lab expansion of building and equipment;
• high school industrial technology separate rooms for machining and welding, and new electrical, ventilation and lighting for that area;
• high school family and consumer science facility expansion;
• CTE and ALC facility and extended hours of operation;
• movement of the student-run school store to provide more space and more open hours;
• what to do with the pool, which was recently inspected, does not leak, and could be brought back into operation; and,
• creating usable space in the multi-purpose building, and deciding what components are necessary.