HJ/EDHerald Journal, Feb. 27, 2006

HLWW voters pass both questions

By Lynda Jensen

Voters turned a page of history for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school district by approving construction of new high school Tuesday.

Two questions passed with healthy margins, with the first question for $27.3 million, in the form of a new high school, passing by 226 votes, and the second question for $400,000 in technology, parking and storage, passing by 119 votes.

A total of 2,978 voters voted on the first question of which 1,601 voted in favor, 1,375 voted against, and there were two completely blank or defective ballots.

The first question for the school includes site development, land and utility hook-ups, furnishings and technology for the new school, physical education and athletic fields, track and bleachers; additions and remodeling for both elementary schools; deferred maintenance for the middle school (adding a handicapped accessible ramp and replacing deteriorated roofing sections).

A total of 2,978 voters also cast their votes on the second ballot question, which was for $460,000 for additional parking and storage for the new high school and improved technology district-wide. A total of 1,542 voted in favor, 1,423 voted against, and there were 13 completely blank or defective ballots.

Question two was contingent upon the passage of question one. Question 1 having carried and question two receiving the approval of at least a majority of votes, question two also passed.

Construction of the new school should begin March 2007 to June 2008 according to a preliminary schedule, with occupancy taking place in September 2008.

Because of the bond election failure in December, construction will begin at the elementary schools first instead of at the high school because of the timeline of the portable leases, which are due June 2007.

Nearly 10 years of committees, discussion

Discussion about a potential new high school or other solution to solving the HLWW school districts space crunch has been ongoing since 1997.

First signs of the idea for a new school emerged Sept. 22, 1997 when Robert Wuornos presented a demographic report to the HLWW School Board about the school’s growth.

Wuornos was director of marketing research from Northwest Associated Consultants, Inc.

The first task force – one of many to come – was formed in January of 1998, with 15 on the committee, including Mike Day, Dean Wessman, and former Supt. Riley Hoheisel (who retired in 2002), Jim Fowler and James Raymond from the school board, former Mayor Gerry Smith, Birdie Jackson, and Jack Littfin from the business community, and Joe Campbell and Janet Perry, parents.

From there, a land use meeting focussed on Victor Township took place March 30, 1998.

Also in 1998, later that spring, HLWW approached Lester Prairie about school pairing and sharing of districts. This was the first of two attempts that were unsuccessful.

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