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Islamic Society in Willmar, Minn., reportedly opts against Garfield School purchase

WILLMAR -- Willmar's Muslim community apparently has backed away from plans to buy the former Garfield School.

Jerry Kjergaard, superintendent of the Willmar School District, said today that the Islamic Society of Willmar notified him earlier this week that the group "had decided they were not going to purchase the Garfield School Building."

The Islamic Society reportedly has decided to buy a different property, Kjergaard said.

The group had approached the Willmar School Board last summer with an offer to buy the building. Members of the group said they had outgrown their current space and were looking for a larger location for worship and religious education.

Talks had stalled, however, after the School District made a counteroffer last fall.

The former Garfield School current houses the Area Learning Center. Both Garfield and the former Lincoln School are up for sale in an effort by the School District to streamline its operating costs. School officials have been in discussion with the city of Willmar about the city's purchase of the south half of the Garfield property for use as a park.