BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN A total of 311 individuals responded to a survey regarding the Tiger Activity Center, giving the Delano School Board and district administrators a look at what people like, dislike, or would like to change about the district’s fitness facility.
Of the 311 respondents, 226 were current members, 47 were former members, 36 were not members, and one declined to answer.
Sixty-one percent of respondents agreed with the statement that the TAC is a quality recreational facility, with another 29 percent strongly agreeing, 8 percent disagreeing, and 1 percent strongly disagreeing.
The majority, 53 percent, agreed with the statement that the center meets their health club expectations, while 22 percent strongly agreed, another 22 percent disagreed, and 3 percent strongly disagreed.
When asked if the center is a good value for the money, 43 percent said they agreed, 37 percent said they strongly agreed, 17 percent said they disagreed, and 3 percent strongly disagreed.
Garnering the most negative responses was the statement “The Tiger Activity Center meets my scheduling needs (knowing school activities take priority),” with 29 percent disagreeing and 7 percent strongly disagreeing, compared to 44 percent agreeing and 20 percent strongly agreeing.
When asked if they were satisfied with the facility’s hours, 181 said yes, while 77 said no. The remaining 12.6 percent of those responding to the question had specific requests such as more summer hours, longer Sunday hours, and 24-hour access via a scan card system.
Regarding the cleanliness of the facility, 54 percent agreed it is clean, followed by 35 percent strongly agreeing, 9 percent disagreeing, and 2 percent strongly disagreeing.
When asked if they would recommend the TAC to a friend or colleague, 48 percent said it was likely, 31 percent said it was very likely, 14 percent said unlikely, and 6 percent said very unlikely.
Community Education Director Dianne Johnson presented all survey results, a summary of comments included in survey responses, and action steps the district plans to take in response during the school board workshop Monday.
Regarding the requests for more summer hours, Sunday availability, and 24-7 access, the district will take the following action steps:
• Open earlier on Sundays beginning in January, with the specific time to be determined at a later date after more discussion and confirmation of staff availability.
• Review summer hours and determine what changes can be implemented beginning in 2020.
• Provide members with information that 24-7 access is not an option due to security concerns.
Regarding access to the facility, there were comments about a lack of open courts, closure of the facility due to school activities, closure of the walking track during games, and limited pool hours.
Action steps include:
• Keeping the circuit and weight rooms open whenever possible, with access through the south entrance when the rest of the facility is used for large school events.
• Discussing potential changes with Activities Director Ryan Tool.
• Opening the walking track partway, allowing members to walk in a U during games beginning Dec. 3.
• Evaluating the possibility of keeping courts available during tournaments on Saturdays.
• Evaluating pool hours and how to use pool time most effectively to meet demand.
• Expanding aquatics options, including a second night of water aerobics, stroke clinics once a month, and a new Saturday aqua cardio/core class.
Regarding cost, comments included that the cost is too high and that fitness classes should be included in the membership fee. Johnson said other comments showed that some people do not understand the membership cost structure, such as resident versus nonresident, and some do not understand that their taxes do not pay the cost of operating the TAC for use by the community.
In response, the district will evaluate membership fees for 2020-21 and provide information that explains what expenses are covered by the membership fees and daily pass revenue.
“I don’t think we would decrease them,” Johnson said. “We’ll try very hard not to increase them but, at the same time, if we’re adding staff hours, that will add expense.”
Regarding the survey as a whole, and the district’s planned responses, interim Board Chair Lisa Seguin said, “Making changes tied to the survey demonstrates that you’re listening to feedback.”
During the regular meeting, Matt Mayer, of BerganKDV, presented the audit report for the 2018-19 school year.
“The original budget called for a spend-down of a little more than $1 million (of the fund balance),” Mayer said. “Halfway through the year, administration came to you and said revenue was going to be better than we anticipated, here are other spending priorities we have, though. You authorized additional spending an a revenue stream for that.”
He said the final plan was to deficit-spend about $650,000.
“You outperformed the budget by about $842,000,” Mayer said.
One-third of that had to do with donated funds, he said, with additional savings tied to salaries, benefits, and facilities.
Revenue was up 4.1 percent, including a 1.3 percent increase in state revenue, and about $600,000 in additional property tax revenue.
Mayer called the district’s enrollment stable. He noted that, regarding open enrollment, the district gained 179 more students than it lost.
Delano receives $1,600 less revenue per pupil than the average district in Minnesota, Mayer said. The district receives less special education aid and compensatory aid based on poverty compared to other districts. However, the district is also spending about $2,000 less per pupil than the average school district in the state, Mayer said.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• designated polling places for the 2020 calendar year. There are polling locations in Delano, Independence, Franklin Township, Loretto, Rockford Township, Woodland Township, Corcoran, Medina, Minnetrista, and Greenfield.
• set the 2020 organizational meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 6, at Delano City Hall.
• approved the first of two reads of the following policies due to substantive and legal reference changes: Policy 412 regarding expense reimbursement, Policy 414 regarding mandated reporting of child neglect or physical or sexual abuse, Policy 510 regarding school activities, and Policy 709 regarding student transportation safety policy.
• approved extended trips for honor choir and a German language weekend.
• accepted $11,135 in donations, as well as supplies for the drama department, from nine entities.
• approved personnel matters, including the resignation of boys soccer coach John Bergh.