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Voters in Renville County West School District may soon be asked to approve new K-12 building project

RENVILE -- Voters in the Renville County West School District may be asked to approve a building project in the near future. In a preliminary vote Monday, a majority of the members of a citizen's task force said they supported the idea of buildin...

RENVILE -- Voters in the Renville County West School District may be asked to approve a building project in the near future.

In a preliminary vote Monday, a majority of the members of a citizen's task force said they supported the idea of building a new K-12 school, according to Superintendent Lance Bagstad.

The task force is expected to meet again on Feb. 12, when members are likely to make a final recommendation to be forwarded to the school board in late February or in March.

The task force has met since July and includes more than 30 members from a cross-section of the district. The group was appointed to study the district's facilities and to look for a way to meet the board's goal of serving the district's students in one building.

RCW now operates an elementary school in Sacred Heart and a secondary school in Renville. A middle school in Danube was closed two years ago.

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The board decided more than a year ago to try to improve efficiency and cut costs by moving everyone into one building. However, neither the elementary or secondary school can hold all the programs.

The Renville building is larger but still would not accommodate a modern K-12 school. "We have a lot of space, but we have lots of unusable space," Bagstad said.

The current buildings are aging and have many deferred maintenance needs with mechanical systems, roofs and windows, Bagstad said. Some additions are newer, but the main buildings are more than 80 years old.

Preliminary estimates indicate that a new building on the Renville site would cost $16 million to $18 million, Bagstad said. It could cost more than $14 million to bring the current school up to code and to build an addition.

Those estimates will cause the district to run up against a state Department of Education rule that an older building should not be remodeled if the cost is more than 60 percent of the price of a new building.

Even extensive remodeling may not preserve them to move another 30 to 40 years into the future, Bagstad said.

"We're looking at the best options to educate our children at Renville County West," he said. "It feels very good to be part of this process, that people are concerned about our schools and thinking about the future."

At a board meeting Monday, the School Board met with its architect Marc Lenz to talk about possible timelines for a referendum and building project. The district could ask the voters to approve the building project this fall. If the project goes ahead, a new building could be ready by summer 2010.

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Board members had lots of questions for Lenz, as the last building project in the district was in 1974-75, Bagstad said.

The board accepted the retirement of math teacher Bill Friday, who has taught for 34 years, beginning in the former Sacred Heart School District. He also coached several different sports during his career.

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