To build or not to build…
Task force set to make recommendations for the community
April 20, 2015
That is the question. As community members and school leaders have been meeting over the course of the past few months to discuss the future of our districts schools, that is the question that remains. Owatonna’s superintendent, Pete Grant, Owatonna High School’s Principal, Mark Randall, and Owatonna school district’s Director of Operations, Tom Sager, have headed the project with assistance from the Wold Architecture Firm. Wold has worked with many different school districts in the renovation or building of new schools; their project managers have gone around the district to determine the repairs needed and the priority of those repairs.
The Owatonna School Board sent out invitations to apply for an opportunity to be apart of the task force. A variety of community members that ranged from past school board members, to business leaders and active participants in community events responded to the invitation.
The task force has already met seven times and will meet once more in April to decide what will be proposed to the school board and, eventually, the community. Due to the amount of renovations, the popular opinion of many students and staff at the high school would be a completely new building; however, this would come with a very hefty price tag that the community will have to pitch in for in the form of tax dollars. Although there is a large focus on the high school with this project, the elementary schools in the district are also in need of repair. With a growing number of elementary-aged students, there may even be the possibility of a new elementary school. In an interview about the facilities meetings, Randall said, “We need to look at what are the immediate needs and what are the needs that we can propose down the road.”
After the last meeting, many scenarios were presented. District Superintendent Pete Grant said, “The cheapest solution would cost 63 million dollars, which would only really be a band aid, albeit an expensive one, while the most expensive solution, which would address all of the problems would cost upwards of 225 million dollars.” During the final meeting the task force will decide what will be passed onto the school board as solutions to be voted on.
One of the ways ISD 761 has saved money over the years is what is called “deferred maintenance”. Deferred maintenance is repairs to the building that are needed but have not been completed. The repairs get graded on a scale of priority to non-priority. Below are some examples of some upkeep issues from OHS.