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Bird Island EDA opposes school closing

The Bird Island Economic Development Authority issued a statement reiterating its opposition to the closure of the BOLD School District elementary school in Bird Island.

FSA school bus
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BIRD ISLAND — The Bird Island Economic Development Authority wants it known that it is not in favor of the closing of the elementary school in the community.

Keeping a school remains a priority for the city of Bird Island.

The Bird Island EDA issued a statement this week to emphasize those two points. The EDA statement expresses concerns that it may have been inferred at the BOLD School Board meeting on Oct. 26 — when the board voted to permanently close the Bird Island school — that the EDA was in favor of the closure of the Bird Island elementary campus.

“Nothing could be farther from the truth,” stated the EDA. It pointed out that two EDA members spoke against the school closing at a public hearing hosted by the BOLD School District, which serves the communities of Bird Island, Lake Lillian and Olivia.

The EDA has retained the services of Engan Associates to help determine a preservation plan for the building. The firm is also looking at the possible use of the building if it is no longer used as a school.

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The EDA said it also wants to obtain cost estimates for major improvements that could possibly be included in a school bond referendum. “We are told that in order to determine costs, we would need to know the uses of the space,” the EDA stated.

The statement noted that a committee was formed Aug. 10 to address the mold issues at the campus. The action was taken due to concerns that moisture issues in the building were not being addressed.

“It was felt that the City of Bird Island should be proactive in protecting the Elementary School building as a community asset,” the EDA stated. Inspections of the building led the EDA to put together a “preservation list” it sent to the BOLD School District for the building’s upkeep.

At the BOLD School Board meeting on Oct. 26, board members discussed but took no action on whether to commit funds to make the building more saleable.

The school board members are working to put a bond referendum to voters in February to build a new prekindergarten-through-12th-grade school on the campus of the Olivia Hospitals and Clinics.

A proposed budget for a new school includes funding for the removal of the Bird Island school. Board members indicated that they would support its sale to a private entity or the city of Bird Island.

The EDA is urging the school to take a variety of steps, ranging from cleaning rooms with mold to utilizing large fans to keep air moving. It asks the school to close off the third floor, where mold is present, from the rest of the building. The EDA also would like the school to check on the air exchange system for the second and third floors.

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