Red Wing school district starts polling public opinion
Brett Boese, Rochester Post-Bulletin, May 11, 2012 –
RED WING — Nearly 50 people attended the first community meeting hosted Thursday evening by the Red Wing school district as it seeks public feedback while considering important financial decisions.
The district’s five-year levy override approved by referendum is scheduled to expire at the end of 2013. At roughly $4 million, it accounts for 14 percent of the district’s annual general fund and equates to the salaries and benefits of roughly 65 teachers, according to school district finance director Brad Johnson.
Red Wing also is considering bonding for money to complete numerous deferred maintenance projects at the six educational buildings.
Thursday was the first of three community meetings designed to engage the public. The next is May 24, and the last one is scheduled for late summer. The meetings each have a distinct purpose: provide an initial district report card, hold dialogue to discuss options and make a recommendation.
The school board, whose members were in attendance, must approve the referendum request by Aug. 24 for it to be placed on the November ballot.
The wide-ranging discussion is being led by Minneapolis-based DRL Group, which has spent the previous weeks inspecting facilities and gathering information on how each building is used. It evaluated all six on a physical and educational level by judging each on nine weighted criteria such as fire and safety, electrical, plumbing and available space at each site.
Grades for the buildings ranged from “A” at Red Wing High School, which was built in 1995, to an “F” for Jefferson Elementary, which was built in 1916.
The people who attended Thursday’s meeting, most of whom have children enrolled in the district, closed the 90-minute informational session by answering a series of questions to help DRL create a baseline for creating plans that the public will consider at the next meeting.