Kingsland school officials
review options with council
Tuesday, July 02, 2013 3:04 AM
After the close of the regular Spring Valley City Council meeting, Kingsland School Board members Doug Plaehn and Kristin Beck, led by Superintendent John McDonald, gave a presentation to the council.
The three outlined the progress the district has made so far as well as the need for possible new building configurations due to growth along with repairs required at the middle school in Wykoff.
McDonald began the presentation with the school's vision, which is "to be committed to an academically rich environment through integration of 21st century skills. By 2017, Kingsland will be recognized for academic excellence, a safe positive learning environment, innovative technology, and community partnership."
He then explained the successes KHS has had in the last few years ranging from systems allowing teachers to collaborate with one another, more reading programs, all day everyday kindergarten and one-to-one technology for all students in grades three to 12.
This year KHS became the first in the state of Minnesota to receive three STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) certifications. The certifications are in engineering, biomedical science and the gateway program.
Part of the certification allows the schools to give AP exams which, based on their scores, can lead to college credits for the students. McDonald was pleased that this year, the first year of the program, he saw 41 out of 63 exams pass. Seventeen freshmen earned college credit, which he called a great success. In fact, these students will be featured on the local ABC news station for their achievements.
In the future he hopes to bring in civil engineering and computer integrated manufacturing, as well as more medical/healthcare courses.
Along with keeping the schools academically up-to-date, McDonald stressed that the districts buildings also need to keep up with the needs of the students.
While the facility in Spring Valley is able to keep up with the current needs thanks to the last referendum, the middle school in Wykoff has a number of issues that will need to be addressed to make if safe and functional.
There is no HVAC system in the building to keep the air circulating. The lack of electrical outlets within the building is becoming more of an issue as the demand for technology-based education grows.
The old gym floor will need to be replaced due to the mercury found within it. Apparently, mercury was once used to keep the wooden gym floors more pliable. There are also issues with asbestos within the building.
Plaehn explained another reason for looking into different ideas is that the new elementary wing was designed for a two-section kindergarten though grade four, but within two years the grades will be three sections due to the increased enrollment.
The board shared the three ideas they have been talking about and asked the council for any feedback.
The first idea is to keep everything the way they are. They would do renovations in Spring Valley and the deferred maintenance in Wykoff. After having experts come in to look at the middle school, McDonald stated that the district would be looking at costs ranging possibly from $5 million to $7 million, though at this time they do not have specifics on the exact cost.
These would only be improvements to keep the building safe and up to code; not updating it to make it more functional for the current academic needs of the students.
The second idea is to change the configuration of the middle school and make it a pre-kindergarten through grade four, while making Spring Valley a site where it would be grades five to 12. The problem with this is it could leave the Wykoff facility quite cramped and maintenance will still need to be done.
The third option is to make Spring Valley a pre-k through grade 12 facility. If this is done the district will lose a gym and a performing arts center, so those would need to be added to the current site.
On the positive side the facility is in much better condition and requires much less maintenance due to the latest renovations.
"The one thing we know we need to do for the future as we go forward is there will need to be a plan and there will need to be some money spent," concluded McDonald.
Mayor Jim Struzyk expressed his feelings saying that closing the Wykoff facility would be a hard sell to the community. But the council largely agreed that the future of the Kingsland school district may mean having all grades in one location.
They also urged the school board to hold public hearings to educate the community about these ideas and the future goals the board has for the school district.
"Our community won't be a good community without a good school. So everyone needs to work together on these projects," remarked Struzyk.