Kingsland School Board of Directors member Steve Tart reads signatures on a petition brought to the board by Lynn Kidd.  The petition asks for the recall of a motion made by the board to close the Wykoff school building.
Kingsland School Board of Directors member Steve Tart reads signatures on a petition brought to the board by Lynn Kidd. The petition asks for the recall of a motion made by the board to close the Wykoff school building.
Following a lengthy discussion, the Kingsland School Board of Directors voted unanimously to hold a community facilities forum at Kingsland Elementary and High School's Kingsland Cafe on Tuesday, March 11, at 7 p.m.

"It's clear we're not going to go for a referendum," said Kingsland School Board of Directors Chairman Doug Plaehn, speaking to the board at the start of a facilities discussion held as part of the February school board meeting last Wednesday evening.

Plaehn was responding to a suggestion from board member Gwen Howard to include members of the community - from both Wykoff and Spring Valley - and to return to the beginnings of a process to update the Kingsland district's existing facilities, instead of presenting a ready-made referendum package, given the opposition prevalent in public opinion.

"I'd like to recommend that we as a board formulate a new facilities committee with community members in it, go back to ground zero," said Howard. "I know we talked about having community meetings and I suggested having community members on the facilities committee. Between emails and comments I've heard from people and read in the papers, I'm not comfortable going forward with a facility referendum."

Plaehn replied, "After the last study session, I don't think there's any support to do a referendum. The board is not committed to do a referendum."

Howard pointed out that while the original facilities committee was formed of administration, staff from both the district's buildings and advised by the superintendent, the lack of communication with residents of both Wykoff and Spring Valley after determinations were made by that facilities committee has contributed to misinformation.

Member Kristin Beck concurred, saying, "I'd like to see community meetings so that people know we have no room in the elementary. I don't think a lot of people understand what's going on."

Wykoff resident Lynn Kidd, accompanied by signers Jeff Erding and Norm Eastvold, presented the board with a 230-signature petition asking for the recall of a motion made last fall to close the Wykoff school building.

"This is a petition for the recall of the motion to close the middle school. I would like to see the motion recalled," said Kidd. "I know that it's been said that there has to be a referendum to make anything happen, but we'd still like to have the motion recalled. This petition was signed by 230 people who walked into my office just to sign it."

He added that he felt that if a community forum were to be held, only one would be necessary because "we're a community."

Howard proposed that transportation to any community meeting be provided for individuals who wish to attend but cannot transport themselves.

Tart added, "I think the public needs to be aware of what updates the Wykoff school needs."

Plaehn spoke again, this time about the elementary school and the fact that it was built in 2008 when enrollment was declining. "If enrollment continues as it is, there will basically be three sections in each grade. The building doesn't hold three sections - it was built for two sections for kindergarten through fourth grade. Hindsight is 20-20."

Board member Deb Larson made a motion to hold the proposed community forum. "I'd like to see a facility meeting with the community to let everyone know how the facility discussion got started. The (changes) might not be for years, but this is where we're sitting right now."

Howard asked, "So we'll make an informed decision where to go after the meeting?"

Plaehn answered, "More than likely, we'll be heading toward another facility committee."

The public is encouraged to attend the forum. For more information, log onto the Kingsland website at www.kingsland.k12.mn.us, or call the district office at (507) 346-7276.