Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 24, 2003

New school: HLWW Board sets public meetings, presses space issue to public

By Lynda Jensen

Taking a well-traveled road, the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school board set several public meetings to discuss its long term facilities once again.

Previously, a five-year process of building a new high school resulted in a three-way split among the communities of Howard Lake, Winsted, and Waverly, when a location near Winsted was chosen to build the new school, and the idea of adding Lester Prairie school district was being discussed.

The idea of adding Lester Prairie was dropped, and elections in the fall of 2001 installed two board members from Howard Lake and Waverly.

Taking 'baby steps'

The board sent a mailing throughout the district recently, outlining its need for a solution to its space crunch.

During the board meeting, no mention of location for a potential new school was mentioned ­ since it would be premature to discuss this subject before the decision is made to build a new school ­ but the issue of location will be addressed before the bond referendum in the fall, said architect Kevin Halbach of KKE Architects.

"We're taking baby steps," Halbach said.

In the meantime, the board is doubling its meetings to draw public opinion about the issue by setting more than usual meetings.

A special meeting was set for 8 p.m. Monday, March 10 at the high school media center to discuss the referendum and go over input gathered from the three town meetings scheduled in the next two weeks.

The town meetings are planned to be very informal.

In addition to the town meetings, the board plans to do two meetings a month as it draws closer to November.

Groups and organizations that wish to meet with board members are being asked to contact Superintendent George Ladd.

Needing more space

Space is the centerpiece of the argument for a new school, but the issue appears to be a statement to some and a question for others.

Those critical of district point out that the school educates the same number of students as years ago, and that the space should be the same.

However, the school district is quick to point out that modern day requirements ­ especially technological ones, such as computers and the like ­ take up more physical space in modern school rooms now.

Aside from this, recent demographic information showed fast growth for all three towns; projecting an additional 37 to 60 children may be added each year.

This growth would be too much for a district, since it is at capacity now, Ladd said.

Both Winsted and Humphrey elementaries are filled, Ladd said. "They're in closets," he said, referring to space.

The district outlined its needs, desire and vision in a recent brochure, detailed below:

The Needs . . .

.A summary of needs includes:

1. All schools are full with no space for additional students, future growth.

2. Elementary Schools are lacking adequate support, media centers, computer rooms and special education areas.

3. Technology and computers for teaching, learning, administration and the community are needed.

4. There is a limited space for the growth that has occurred in Athletic programs.

5. The schools are old and some building systems are in need of replacement.

6. The distric tneeds classroom and support space at all grade levels - student programs and opportunities are being affected.

7. Student learning environments and public spaces need code, life safety, and handicapped accessibility improvements and remodeling to update facilities.

8. Non-instruction areas have been converted to student use and appropriate spaces need to be provided.

9. The district must invest to assure operating and maintenance economies in the future.

The Plans . . .

There are no fixed or chosen plans. No referendum date has been set.

Suggestions for improvements, solutions, and alternatives are being requested and are welcomed for consideration and review. The following general options are offered for discussion:

Red Option

Possible cost: $10 - 15 million

Winsted School: remodel and expand building for grades k-5, 280 students

Waverly School: remodel and expand building for grades k-5, 280 students

Howard Lake School: remodel existing building for grades 6-8, 9-12 and remodel k-3 rooms for Middle School use

Additional options:

1. Purchase up to 80 acres (+/-) for future High School and future Middle School

2. Build track, football stadium and ball fields on new purchased land

3. Build multi-use gym at Waverly

4. Remodel / improve or expand Howard Lake auditorium

5. Technology system and equipment

6. Bus garage

White Option

Possible Cost: $10-$15 Million

Winsted School: remodel building (boiler/heating system, roofing, windows, floor replacement, special ed rooms) for grades k-3

Waverly School: remodel building (kitchen and roofing) for grades k-3

Howard Lake School: remodel building for grades 4,5 and 6-8

New School: 80,000 sq. foot school on 80 acres (+/-) with new athletic facilities, grades 9-12, 400 students.

Additional options:

1. Technology system and equipment

2. Bus garage

Blue Option

To be Developed! Open for discussion!

The Opportunity . . .

The Board of Education desires to share information and seek input from the district at three information meetings (see the front page).

Information will also be available at the school district booth at the Waverly Montrose Expo on Saturday, March 1, and the Howard Lake Expo Saturday, March 15.

Call Superintendent George Ladd at 320-543-3521 or contact a school board member.

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