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Willmar School Board OKs sale of Washington school

The Willmar School Board has approved the sale of the former Washington Learning Center to Affiliated Community Medical Centers for $300,000. Closing of the sale is set for April 22. (Tribune photo by Gary Miller)

WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board has approved the sale of the former Washington Learning Center to Affiliated Community Medical Centers for $300,000.

The closing on the sale is scheduled for April 22.

Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard told the School Board on Monday that there are no contingencies attached to the sale, and it should go through as planned.

Two previous offers on the building were ultimately weighed down by contingencies attached by the buyers.

The district closed two smaller elementary buildings and repurposed others in a 2009 restructuring of the district's buildings. Washington had been the home of the Community Education and Recreation Department for about a decade until the program moved to the former Jefferson Elementary in summer 2009. The restructuring left Washington and the former Lincoln Elementary School empty.

The Washington school is located on Willmar Avenue just west of the ACMC clinic parking lot. The district's Focus House program will still be located in a house just west of Washington. The Focus House program helps special education students prepare for life in the community after graduation.

The sale agreement gives the district use of the western driveway on the Washington property as long as the Focus House program is in existence.

ACMC had expressed interest in purchasing the property several years ago, but the district had not been ready to sell the building then because it was still in use.

Board member Mike Reynolds said he was glad to approve the sale.

"ACMC has always been a great supporter," he said. "I think this is the culmination of a great relationship."

The $300,000 sale price will go into the district's capital improvement fund to help offset the cost of adding several kindergarten rooms to Roosevelt Elementary School in 2009. It will be used for other capital improvements in the district.

The sale leaves the district with one empty school building remaining, Lincoln in southeast Willmar.

The board also approved a list of capital improvement projects for this summer. The funding for the projects comes from designated state aid and tax levies, and it can be used only for capital improvements.

The largest project is a reworking of parking and walkways around Kennedy Elementary to improve pick-up and drop-off points and increase student safety. The cost of the project is estimated at $275,000. Another major project is resurfacing of the bus parking area at Willmar Senior High, estimated to cost about $180,000.

The plan includes a variety of smaller projects that include routine maintenance to building exteriors and interiors and work on heating and ventilation units.

The district will be advertising for bids on the projects, and contracts will be awarded later this year.

In other business, the board:

- Placed one tenured teacher on unrequested leave of absence from 33 percent of her full-time job because it had been funded by federal funding which is running out. For the same reason, the board proposed to place another teacher on unrequested leave of absence for 14 percent of her job.

- Approved updated standards for health, physical education and science. The standards are set by the state, but the benchmarks students must meet to reach the standards have been developed by local committees.

- Adopted a number of policy revisions which were recommended by the Minnesota School Board Association.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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