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« Evolution of computer use in Minnesota | Main | Excuses, excuses »
Wednesday
Apr302008

We're building a new school!

newschools.jpgI work in a great community.

Despite the high cost of food and fuel, a tax burden that's shifting more and more to local property taxes, and a general concern about the economy and personal well-being, the greater Mankato area citizens voted themselves a tax increase yesterday to build a new elementary school. The $33.5 million dollar construction referendum passed by 400 votes - 53% in favor. There are some other items in the referendum, including purchasing more land for yet another school, remodeling some science classrooms, and putting in an elevator but the big excitement is all about the new elementary building - the first we've built since the early 1970s.

We have a very smart school board and superintendent and savvy-supportive community. In my estimation, our district has a good track record of passing referendums because:
  • We are modest in in our requests.
  • We are well-known to be very well-run financially (and conservatively), winning awards in this area. We have the lowest administrative overhead and cost-per-pupil expenses in our region. 
  • We are open and transparent about our finances.
  • We are an "education-oriented" community, with four colleges within our school district boundaries.
  • We get the support of the local chamber, city government and business organizations. They "get" that good schools are a community development issue.
  • Our local paper has always been fair to our schools.
  • The anti-referendum letters to the editor made state government the villain in the problem of rising property taxes (as well it is), not the schools. There was never a letter saying we don't NEED a new school, only objections about how education is financed in the state.

Anyway, this is exciting. We already know this will be a "green" school, modeling as many energy efficient technologies as possible. I am hoping the new building will also have a "model" elementary media center that will serve students and staff for the next, uh, hundred years? (We are still using schools built in the 1920s with no plans to stop doing so.)

When's the first planning meeting? I can't wait! 

 

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Reader Comments (8)

I've got some recycled carpet samples I can send ya :) Congratulations to your district! Way to go :)

April 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Foote

Hi Carolyn,

Thanks! I may be coming to you for some advice. Last new facility planning I did was in the early-mid 90s! (Yes, I am older than dirt.)

Doug

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Congratulations! That's exciting news! We are packing up our library to get ready to move into a new one this summer. I definitely understand the excitement.

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Thanks, Anna.

Good luck with your move. It IS exciting.

Appreciate the comment,

Doug

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

My elementary school was on the tail-end of a ten year district-wide rebuilding of all elementary schools. I was on the planning committee for our building--which was a grueling, but worthwhile experience. I was shocked at the arrogance of the architects we worked with. Despite the strong feelings of the teachers and parents on the committee, they really wanted to be "innovative" and design the building with "pods"--isolated groups of five or six classrooms. They didn't understand why we wanted bookshelves in our classrooms for "libraries". We got everything we wanted, but we had to fight pretty hard for it.

We were very lucky, being the last school to be rebuilt, because we could go to the 12 other new schools and see what was working and what wasn't. My advice: do lots of research, be assertive, and be skeptical of architects, whose professional journals award "innovation", but not the satisfaction of the kids and teachers who will be living in the buildings.

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmy S.

Thanks, Amy. Great advice.

All the best,

Doug

May 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Now is the time to set up the Media Center as it should be; open and flexible, with information skills based on units of study. That is how we started at Landmark and it is still working after 6 years. Good Luck!

May 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKathie

My name is Gil from Denmark,
i live for one year in Germany as Aupair.
I am new here and will be silent most time cause of my bad English.

Brit

May 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLivecam kostenlos

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