OLIVIA — Voters in the BOLD School District will go to the polls early next year to decide whether to build a new school on the campus of the Olivia Hospital and Clinic in Olivia.
School board members voted unanimously Tuesday to put a $58,900,000 general obligation bond question to voters in a Feb. 9, 2021, referendum.
Voters will decide two questions. Along with funding a new school facility for prekindergarten through 12th grade, voters will be asked separately to support $5,210,000 in bonding to develop an athletic/activities complex at the new school site.
Preliminary plans call for building a 149,000-square-foot facility. It would include a 500-seat auditorium.
The overall bond request includes funds to raze the current facilities in Olivia and would allocate $1 million instead of $2.5 million to the city of Bird Island for the disposition and ownership transfer of the elementary school facilities there.
Board members agreed two weeks earlier to include $2.5 million in bond funding for Bird Island. The offer was in response to a request by the Chalkboard Collective of Bird Island, which is looking at repurposing the facilities for private and community use.
The collective had estimated it would cost $6 million or more to remove the two older buildings on the Bird Island site, replace the heating and ventilation system, and undertake roof and other essential maintenance on the remaining buildings to allow for their continued use.
In a work session prior to the meeting Monday evening, board members decided to change the allocation for the Bird Island facility from the original $2.5 million to $1 million. Superintendent Dale Brandsoy said the district had received information from its bond counsel that it could not allocate the $1.5 million for Bird Island, since those funds would be used for a “non-educational purpose.” The $1.5 million will be allocated instead to enhance the scope of work for the preK-12 facility.
Ryan Hoffman, the district’s consultant with ICS for the building project, reiterated that point during the meeting after there was some confusion over the Bird Island offer.
Board member Melissa Sagedahl said she supported enhancing the scope of the preK-12 school project by allocating that $1.5 million for the new facility.
Board member Traci Buchtel said she supported the $2.5 million allocation for Bird Island, after which Hoffman said he wanted to make sure it was understood that — while the $2.5 million amount is still in the overall project budget — there is $1 million for the disposition/ownership transfer of the Bird Island facility, and the $1.5 million that cannot be allocated there would be put toward the new preK-12 facility in Olivia.
Members Sagedahl and Buchtel offered the motion for the bond referendum, and members Sandy Benson, Jamie Bolin and chair Jill Hanson voted in support.
Member John Desotell offered his resignation from the board on Monday afternoon, and did not participate in the meeting. His term expires at year's end.
Member Jeff Benson was on the road and unable to connect to the virtual meeting, and consequently did not vote.
With the vote, the school will submit its plans for a new facility to the Minnesota Department of Education for its review and comment. The board needed to meet a November deadline of submitting the plans in order to hold a February referendum.
The district will continue working with Wold Architects to develop plans for the new facility. Superintendent Brandsoy said the architects will gather input from school board members, staff and members of the public as the design is developed. The goal is to develop a facility to accommodate an individualized learning environment.
School board members will also be working to provide information on the plans and bond to the public in advance of the referendum.
The district is looking at repairing the roof of the school gymnasium in Bird Island. It hopes the gym will remain available for use by the school until a new facility is built, according to the superintendent.