BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Users of the Tiger Activity Center will see fees increase by about 5 percent starting with the upcoming school year, while use of the facility during the school year will now be free for students receiving free lunch, and those receiving reduced-price lunches will receive a discount during the school year.
The Delano School Board approved the changes Monday on a 4-3 vote, with board members Rachel Depa, Amy Johnson, and Carolyn Milano opposed.
All three said concerns about the accessibility of the TAC influenced their vote.
“A lot of people came up to me and said they couldn’t access the gym,” Depa said Tuesday. “I said it wasn’t good to increase fees until we get that figured out.”
She said she did not believe a 5 percent increase was unreasonable, but that her vote was a result of concerns she had heard from TAC users.
During previous discussion about the fee increases, Johnson had asked if district officials had received any feedback about the accessibility of the facility or any other concerns. While there had not been many, if any, official complaints, she had received complaints personally.
“I’m a member,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I get feedback good and bad, but rarely good.”
Increases to other fees also influenced her decision.
“We’ve increased a lot of different fees over the last couple years, so I’m sensitive to that and the feedback I’ve received,” Johnson said. “Though they are small increases, I did not think it was the right time, especially because the TAC members put up with a lot of construction.”
Not increasing fees would have rewarded TAC members who had dealt with limitations to the facility during construction, she said.
Individuals with concerns regarding the TAC should contact Community Education Director Diane Johnson or TAC staff, Johnson suggested.
Milano’s concerns mirrored those of Depa and Johnson.
“My concern is the access piece, as far as access to all facilities, especially the turf and track,” Milano said. “My other concern was timing, as far as having the construction piece all year interfere.”
Despite her concerns, she was happy to see staff implement her suggestions regarding fees for students receiving free or reduced-price lunches.
“I was grateful, quite honestly, that they went back and did the research,” said Milano, who has also suggested decreased fees in other areas and seen them come to fruition. “ . . . I was quite happy because they were not included in the past. Now, setting the precedent in a few areas, I’m quite glad.”
Though the three board members voted “nay,” all three said they would support the decision of the majority of the board that voted “yea.”
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• entered into closed session to discuss contract negotiations strategy.
• approved personnel matters, including the resignation of varsity softball coach Jim VanCura; the contracted hiring of Delano High School special education teacher Julie Algaard, Delano Elementary School social worker Lisa Armstrong, DES physical education teacher Erin Megna, and DHS special education teacher Nathan Starks; and 2018-20 contracts for Diane Johnson, TAC Coordinator Kim Finn, and the principals contract.
• accepted $20,714 in donations from two entities and $1,500 scoreboard sponsorships from nine different entities.
• approved the spring 2019 trip for music students.