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MACCRAY voters to get look at single-campus plan

Larry Macht of Raymond, left, visits Thursday in Raymond with Bert Haglund of TSP Architects following the first public information meeting on the MACCRAY Schools bond proposal. A referendum is set for Feb. 7 when voters will decide whether to authorize a $38.8 million bond for a project that will build a new elementary school, creating a single campus in Clara City. Elementary schools in Raymond and Maynard would be razed, while athletic facilities would remain in the two towns. (Tom Cherveny / Tribune)

RAYMOND — Residents in the MACCRAY School District took a look last week at the proposed project for a single-campus system when the school board hosted the first of three planned public meetings.

Voters in the district will decide Feb. 7 whether to approve a $38.8 million bond for the project. It calls for building a $27.8 million elementary school and $5.1 million, 500-seat auditorium on the high school campus in Clara City. The project also includes $1.8 million to raze the East and West elementary schools in Raymond and Maynard, and build new support facilities for the athletic facilities in those communities.

"We're at a crossroads,'' said Superintendent of Schools Brian Koslofsky as he and school board chairman Lane Schwitters completed a presentation of the project Thursday evening in Raymond. "This is a monumental decision and I respect that completely,'' said Koslofsky.

He told an audience estimated at 60 or more that he watched the district come together and fight for the continuation of the four-day school week. He encouraged the same team approach as residents decide the district's future.

"I look forward to the opportunity to build our communities on the backbone of our district. We can do it. You can do anything you put your mind to,'' he said.

There was no question-and-answer period following the presentation, and so it was not possible to know the mood or questions of those attending. There are informal campaigns groups organized in the district advocating a "yes" or "no" vote, and members of both attended the presentation.

Along with outlining the proposed project, the superintendent and board chairman described the litany of issues that need to be addressed in the two elementary school facilities. Both have significant issues, including the need to replace steam boiler heating systems.

No cost estimates were provided at the presentation, but TSP Architects had estimated that it would cost $8.7 million to upgrade the East Elementary and $6.7 million at the West Elementary to current codes when the district's building needs were outlined to a facilities working committee in March 2016. To those costs they added estimates of roughly $2 million at East and $1 million at West to meet educational adequacy needs.

Board chairman Schwitters outlined a list of expected benefits by moving from a three- to one-campus system, ranging from consolidating staff and programming to reduced transportation needs.

The district has placed the outline of the presentation on its website. The site also includes a list of questions and answers regarding the project, and a link that allows the owners of agricultural land to calculate the project's tax impact on their property.

The monthly tax impact for the project is calculated at $11.76 for a $100,000 residential property and $24.58 for a $100,000 commercial property, according to information presented Thursday.

The district will host a second presentation at 7 p.m. Monday in the High School in Clara City and a third presentation at 7 p.m. Jan. 30 in the West Elementary in Maynard.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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