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School district OKs facility agreement with Parks and Recreation

WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board has approved a facilities use agreement between Willmar Community Education and the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

Erica Dischino / TribuneArt students and others leave the Willmar Community Education and Recreation building Thursday at Jefferson Learning Center in Willmar. The Willmar City Council and the Willmar School Board approved the agreement this week to dissolve the Willmar Community Education and Recreation Joint Powers as of Sept. 1.
Erica Dischino / Tribune file photo Art students and others leave the Willmar Community Education and Recreation building in July in this file photo taken at Jefferson Learning Center in Willmar. The Willmar School Board Monday discussed the sharing of facilities with the city Parks and Recreation department after the Willmar Community Education and Recreation Joint Powers agreement was dissolved back on Sept. 1.

WILLMAR - The Willmar School Board has approved a facilities use agreement between Willmar Community Education and the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

The agreement allows the two departments free use of most of each other's facilities. The City Council has not approved it yet. The agreement goes into effect Jan. 1.

Community Education Director Scott Wallner told the School Board this week that the agreement grew out of discussions when the former Willmar Community Education and Recreation Department was split apart.

The school district and city had operated the combined department for nearly two decades before splitting it into separate school and city entities this fall.

City and school officials worked together to craft the agreement, Wallner said.

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"There's a need for recreation programs to be in school buildings and also for our programs to be in city facilities," he said.

"We are trying to make this as as seamless as we can," he said. Another goal is to keep participation fees about the same, he added.

Wallner said he has appreciated the public's understanding during the transition. "They've been award of the change, ... they understand the city has a role in this where it hadn't in the past."

Programs in each department regularly use city and school facilities. Under the agreement there will be no charge for the use of the public facilities in most cases.

There will be a charge for supplies used, like chalk for lines on athletic fields, he said. A large event which requires additional city or school staff time would also result in charges.

The agreement gives school programs first priority for school facilities and city programs in city facilities. Both sides are to request facilities in advance to help with scheduling.

"It helps keep track, to make sure we're not missing anything," Wallner said.

"I don't think a lot will change over what's happened in the past," he said. "It will be a little clumsier because we've got the two entities, but this can work."

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In other business this week, the board heard an update on enrollment from Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington.

Enrollment at the end of last week was 4,363 students, 71 students higher than a year ago and 19 fewer than last month. The elementary schools, Willmar Senior High and the Area Learning Center have all seen enrollment increase. The Middle School has a few less students.

At the end of the meeting, Superintendent Jeff Holm and the board members thanked members Linda Mathiasen and Laura Warne for their service on the board. They did not run for re-election this year.

Two new members will join the board in January, Jay Lawton and Michael O'Brien.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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