BOLD to talk to neighboring school districts about joint facility possibilities

BOLD School Board members agreed to open discussions with neighboring districts about the possibilities for cooperative ventures before making any decisions on how to go forward in the wake of the $62.6 million bond defeat.

BOLD Superintendent Dale Brandsoy. West Central Tribune file photo

OLIVIA — The next step forward for the BOLD School Board members will be to meet with their counterparts at neighboring districts to explore the possible interest in jointly addressing facilities needs.

BOLD School Board members informally agreed to meet with neighboring districts. The members met in a work session Monday in which they discussed how to move forward after the failed $62.6 million bond in the Feb. 9 referendum.

Superintendent Dale Brandsoy said the Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart School Board is interested in a joint meeting, and that he would arrange a date for the two boards to meet.

The Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop School Board will be deciding at its meeting this month whether to accept an invitation from BOLD to meet as well.

Board members said they would also support talking with the Renville County West School District . Brandsoy said he would check with the district’s superintendent.


Board members indicated they also remain committed to gathering more public input. They signaled their interest in meeting especially with those who had opposed the last project, both for input and ideas. Board member Theresa Jacobs said she believed the board could gather some amazing ideas if it invited more input.

Other members voiced support as well for input. “It’s not about what I want. It’s not about what you want. It’s about what the people want,” said board member Traci Buchtel.

During discussions, board members also kept the full range of facilities options on the table, including that of a possible project on the Olivia campus.

Ryan Hoffman, ICS Consulting of Minneapolis , said a two-year-old estimate for upgrading and replacing a portion of the facility to accommodate a preK-12 school was more than $37 million. He cautioned that there have been changes in goals and costs since that estimate was made.

Hoffman informed board members they have two options for funding to address building needs in the short term. The school could issue bonds based on an annual maintenance levy of around $250,000. Or, the district could go to the voters for authority to bond. The earliest a referendum could be held would be in August.

Board members indicated that they want to determine a path forward before taking on the costs of addressing short-term needs. If the district pursues a joint project with another district, the amount invested in the existing facilities could essentially be lost.

The district has spent money on Band-Aids, said the superintendent, and that represents the predicament now. The problems with the aged equipment and buildings continue to mushroom, he said.

The work session was marked by differing views on why voters rejected the bond, but agreement on a central point: Board members said they believe there is strong support to address the district’s facilities needs. “They know something needs to be done,” said board member Brian Boen.


He defended the project put to the voters as being what consultants ICS believed best met the district’s needs. But it was clearly not what voters supported: “The people talked so we have to listen to them,” he said.

Member Jacobs voiced concerns during the discussions that the board did not have the public’s trust going into the referendum. She pointed to concerns about a possible violation of the Open Meeting Law when board members had allegedly met during a school board convention.

She also said that she was among members of the community steering committee looking at facilities needs who felt the process was “railroaded.”

In the end, the voters decided the project was more than the district could afford, according to Jacobs.

Superintendent Brandsoy said he was concerned about the “negativism” that was expressed during the two weeks prior to the referendum. There were a lot of misconceptions, he said.

He said he took a phone call from someone asking why the district wanted to build a dome over the athletic fields. There was no dome in the plans.

Board chair Jill Hanson urged members to put the differences behind them and work together.


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