Hermantown School Board Passes $49 Mil Facilities Plan

Posted at: 06/24/2013 5:03 PM | Updated at: 06/24/2013 10:48 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

Some big changes could be coming to the Hermantown School District following a school board vote Monday night.

The board unanimously approved a long-range facilities plan costing $48.9 million over the next 25 years. Superintendent Brad Johnson said the changes are necessary for students and the community.

"Our infrastructure at our middle school is basically crumbling," Johnson said. "It's important that we provide for our students so people want to come here, live here and go to school here."

Johnson said basement classrooms at the middle school flood when it rains.

"There's some smell from the water seepage in the basement," Johnson said.

He also said parts of the wall are starting to fall off. In the gymnasium, there was a hole that keeps reforming each year.

To solve some of these problems, more than 100 community members got together over the last year to put together a plan.

"We are not asking for anything fancy," parent Natalie Peterson said. "We just need some educationally sound changes."

The plan includes building a new high school and moving middle schoolers to the current high school. The plan would also add classrooms at the elementary school.

"I couldn't be more proud," Peterson said. "It's a plan that completely fits the needs of the community."

While Peterson said she's received an overwhelming amount of community support, not everyone is on board.

"Anytime you're going and looking at changes in a community and affecting any sort of taxation, you're going to have opposition," Peterson said.

Support was also complicated when the district hired Johnson Controls. That's the company that helped with Duluth's Red Plan.

"Those who have opposed it have had concerns with what's happened in other communities," Peterson said. "We are focusing on what's happening in Hermantown."

Since the plan passed the school board tonight, it will now go to the Minnesota Department of Education. If they approve the plan, a bond referendum will go on ballots this fall.

Under the bond referendum, taxpayers who own a home costing $200,000 will pay just over $30 a month.

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