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HLWW School District 2687 Board Minutes


Tuesday, April 10, 2001, 8:00 P.M.


The Special School Board Meeting of the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted ISD #2687 was called to order at 8:00 p.m. on April 10, 2001. After the Pledge of Allegiance, roll was taken with all members present: James Fowler, Randy Heuer, Kirk Jensen, Richard Lammers, Eugene Lorentz, James Raymond, Charles Weber, Leo Weber, Ken Zimmermann. Also present were Superintendent Riley Hoheisel and Principals Mike Day, Julie Millerbernd and Dean Wessman. About 70 people from the public were in attendance.

Hoheisel stated an addition to the agenda of reviewing bids submitted for two appliances (Item 0). Lammers moved to approve the agenda of the April 10, 2001 special meeting with the added item; C. Weber seconded; passed unanimously.

Bids submitted for the Hobart mixer and meat slicer were read. Raymond moved to award the bids to the highest bidders (Ron Otto - mixer; Charles Weber - slicer). L. Weber seconded; passed unanimously.

(Item 1) Heuer presented the information the Site Committee had collected and prepared regarding possible sites for a new 9-12 high school, and opened the floor to questions from the Board and the public.

L. Weber expressed the importance of road access and said that a concern for the Howard Lake site is blacktop for a township road; it should be 9 ton, 6 inch class 5 gravel, 5 1/2 inch tar. He asked who will pay for the road, including turn lanes.

Mayor Smith said that the city of Howard Lake would pay, and that County Board action taken 3/23/01 supports changing the road, provided the school is built in Howard Lake.

County Commissioner Jack Russek said the county might block building on the Fiecke site.

Heuer said that the Fiecke site had received township board approval.

Pat VanOss said the open enrolled students won't return to the district if the school is in Winsted, and that the best site would be Highway 12 (the T&O area), because of its visibility. Heuer said that that land was not available.

VanOss asked if the 10th site-choice criteria had been considered, which is if a referendum is likely to pass. He said that 40% of people said they would vote for the school in Howard Lake but not Winsted, and if a referendum wouldn't pass, another year would be wasted. He said that it's important to consider what is possible (as far as being passed by the public).

Mayor Smith agreed that visibility for the school is important. He pointed out 2001 census numbers: Waverly increased 22% over 1999; Wright County increased 30%; Howard Lake increased 38%, which was the second highest rate of increase for a small town in the county; Winsted increased 22%; McLeod County increased 7%.

He continued by saying the exposure in Howard Lake is twice that of Winsted. He encouraged the board to listen to the survey results, and look at the question jointly. He said the Victor Township situation had not been handled properly.

Heuer reminded Smith that the Board had asked Victor Township to allow the Dalbec site to be considered for a school four times, and they refused four times.

Dave Sherman stated that this is an emotional issue and that in Winsted, kids will be hurt if a school isn't built. He said that Winsted currently pays 40% to 45% of the tax so they should be considered; also that Winsted and Howard Lake should be good neighbors.

Jack Littfin - safety concern with trucks using Keats Avenue.

Russek - there is no problem at Buffalo's new school with the 10 ton road.

Dave Perry asked how many of the open enrolled students from Winsted go to Holy Trinity. Heuer responded that parochial schools weren't included in the open enrollment numbers - only students who are enrolled to other public schools. He said that the Winsted site may allow some opportunity to share programs with Holy Trinity and the public school.

Tom Ollig said the public school and Holy Trinity should be partners, and that Holy Trinity is looking at building a new elementary and adding a gym; that they remain in the business of education and plan to continue to educate kids.

Perry said if we don't get something done, we might not have a school, and asked what could be gained by building in Winsted vs. Howard Lake.

Heuer said the Board hopes to attract back possibly 50% of open enrolled students regardless of the site, but that there might be a slight gain over that if it's in Winsted.

Zimmermann said the parochial school parents pay the same taxes.

Perry said the St. James students have a choice for grades 9-12 of where to attend, but Holy Trinity students don't.

John Swanson of the Howard Lake City Council asked about logistics, as far as getting the students to a school, and asked about the north end of the district. He asked about open enrollment numbers. He said a Howard Lake location would be better from a business perspective.

L. Weber said there is a good potential to attract more open enrollment students from other districts toward the south than the north.

Heuer said the committee didn't use open enrollment in the high school as criteria for choosing the site and that the Winsted site would add 12 miles per day per student. He said that in today's environment, 6 miles twice a day would not be a breaking point.

He also said another reason for this site selection is that it was felt a new location would enhance perception of the district.

VanOss repeated that the Board could win on 9 criteria, but will not on the 10th, which is likelihood of passing a referendum.

Heuer said that several people in the last years have stood up publicly and said "I will support the best school site" and that the Board is asking them to be truthful to their word because their support is needed, and we ask them to stand up and do what they said they would.

Smith - I listen to the public, why won't the board?

Heuer - over time, we believe the votes will be there. The Board hopes to make a decision at the next Board Meeting, based on the greater good of having a new high school in the district.

Smith - why add a stumbling block (location) to the referendum.

Heuer - if the community supports it, it will pass.

Ted Nichols asked who is being cheated and said a Howard Lake site will have a better chance of passing. He said the District itself also needs to change, stating that in five years, 50% of current teachers will be gone, and that it's time to get new blood.

Doug Borglund asked about the cost of the Winsted site sewer and water. Heuer answered that the city of Winsted will put in $500,000.

Tom Peterson, Lakes Realty, said a school campus makes sense. Heuer said the chances of getting a campus are slim and none.

Lynda Jensen, Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, said that to her knowledge, this had not been approved by the Winsted City Council.

Gene Gilbert said that her youngest is now a junior in high school, pointing out how much time has passed since this discussion was initiated. She said the site should be central to allow for a community center; any non-central site will have to be sold to the public, especially those without kids.

Don Horsch asked if the land could be purchased for the quoted price; Heuer said yes because of the letter of intent, and that Board action will include the price.

Sue Zachman asked if the student survey, which indicated that a Howard Lake site was preferred, had been considered. Heuer responded that the Board has two major obligations; one, to direct the administration in how to operate the district; and two, to project long-terrn what is best for the district, which can be very difficult to do. He added that we need to overcome negativity.

Janet Perry - if the referendum doesn't pass, how many years will go by before it can pass. Costs will go up each year of delay.

Heuer said that the plan is to run the bond issue this fall, hoping that community leaders will support it based on the facts that the site has been chosen because it is the best one, the criteria used is sound, and even though the site isn't exactly central, the district must move on with the project.

Peterson said a random student survey indicated the majority preferred a Howard Lake and central site. He also said that of the high school scholarships given, 32 are given by Howard Lake, and only 1 by Winsted.

Sherman said the Task Force and School Board have given credibility to Winsted but others may be missing the point.

Bob Wynnemer asked why Winsted joined the school district.

L. Weber responded that they thought Howard Lake-Waverly would give better opportunity and, even though they were concerned about their identity, they felt consolidating would give the best school.

Allan Glessing said that for him personally, the two final sites were equidistant from his home, but he felt that Howard Lake should have offered a better site. He said there are now 4 buildings and asked if the district will move students and if they will buy 150 acres.

Heuer said this has not been easy but the Board has been planning for this. Consolidation saved $600,000 which has been maintained; we will spend down the fund balance, and then count on growth and additional students. He also said the Dalbec site would have cost more, although it would have promoted district unity. However the Dalbec site is no longer an option. He said the architect considered these points about the Winsted site: acreage and massing plan, showing that the school fits on the property; storm water retention; future growth and the need for 80 acres so it' s not boxed in 30 years from now. He said that at the Winsted site, we can be confident of enough space, including the proposed Ag Farm.

In response to a question from Doug Bebo about the Ag Farm, Heuer said it will help the District with grad standards and ag education. He said it might be that we spend money for it in the short term, but in the long terrn it will be very attractive to students.

Wynnemer asked what scholarships are available this spring. Heuer and Sherman said they didn't want students to suffer and that the towns should be good neighbors.

VanOss - are scholarships available, yes or no?

Sherman - let's work together to develop something special and to start the healing process.

Heuer- scholarships are not in the proposal.

VanOss - regarding the bond issue, is the money in Howard Lake or Winsted? Also, this meeting was a waste of time, as no one has changed their mind.

Heuer said that the goal had been to make a recommendation.

Peterson - the students aren't asking about this, which is concerning.

David Peterson, student - why haven't students been asked for their opinions?

Heuer- students have an obligation to ask for information and to be included.

Heuer thanked the people for their comments and said the Board took them seriously. He reiterated that the Dalbec site had not been approved, that they used agreed-upon criteria to choose the site; both final sites are suitable but they are interested in the best site for students and the long term future.

Russek asked if this was a public hearing. Lorentz said no.

Heuer moved to adjourn the meeting; seconded by Lammers; passed unanimously and adjourned at 10:05.

Respectfully submitted,

Richard Lammers, Clerk

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