ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

New London Spicer Schools reviews expansion proposal

NEW LONDON -- A new set of plans for a potential expansion of facilities in the New London-Spicer School District is taking shape, along with the goal of seeking voter approval in a Nov. 3 election.

NEW LONDON –– A new set of plans for a potential expansion of facilities in the New London-Spicer School District is taking shape, along with the goal of seeking voter approval in a Nov. 3 election.
During a planning session this week, the NLS School Board reviewed the results of a facilities use study conducted by the district’s new architects, DeVetter Design Group of Minneapolis.
Board members also discussed options for meeting educational needs in the district by remodeling existing space and building new facilities.
Last fall voters rejected a $14.6 million bond issue to construct a performing arts auditorium, gym and fitness center at the high school and a combination cafeteria/auditorium at the elementary school.
The new building proposal still includes a 650-seat performing arts center, a two-court gym and interior remodeling at the high school/middle school but the fitness center components have been eliminated.
A survey is being done to determine if there is enough room to put the performing arts auditorium at one end of the high school/middle school and the gymnasium at the other. In the previous plan, the gym and auditorium would have been built next to each other.
The new plan still includes a cafeteria/auditorium combo at the elementary school, along with a new classroom and additional remodeling.
Because of predictions that general construction costs have risen 7 to  8 percent from last year and because of the additional space proposed at the elementary school, Superintendent Paul Carlson said the board is concerned about the total cost of the project.
Carlson said the board agreed to send the
preliminary drawings to an estimator to get a better idea on what the cost will be, which will help determine what parts of the preliminary drawings will remain and which ones may be eliminated before the matter is put on the ballot.
Last year voters had just one take-it-or-leave-it question on the ballot and the majority of voters said no to the entire proposal.
This time around there may be as many as three questions on the ballot.
No decision has been yet, but Carlson said the board discussed whether to give voters options on approving segments of a proposal or if there should be just one up-or-down ballot question.
Carlson said putting multiple questions on the ballot may give voters the impression there is a “throw-away” proposal. But he said board members expressed strong opinions that the proposal would address necessary facility needs for the district.
Besides adding additional space, Carlson said the new plan would help reorganize programs that will allow “make space” areas for students to work collaboratively on classroom projects and for special education classrooms to be located together. The plan would also create a sixth-grade science room and improve security and parking.
At its July meeting the board is expected to take action to send the proposal to the state Department of Education for its approval.
The board will decide in August when to put the issue on the ballot, but Carlson said the goal is Nov. 3.
He said the board intends to take the necessary time to study the district’s needs and facilities proposal but also wants to keep the momentum of the project going.
Unlike last year when the district conducted a public meeting at the school to discuss the proposal, Carlson said this time drawings and information about the proposal will be presented to community groups at their locations.
“We need to be mobile and go to where people are meeting,” Carlson said.
The last time NLS undertook a construction project was in 1993.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at clange@wctrib.com or 320-894-9750
What To Read Next
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.
Mike Clemens, a farmer from Wimbledon, North Dakota, was literally (and figuratively) “blown away,” when his equipment shed collapsed under a snow load.
Volunteers lead lessons on infusing fibers with plant dyes and journaling scientific observations for youth in Crow Wing and Olmsted counties.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.