The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 3, 2013

Mankato district holds bond meeting for voters

Residents ask about district growth, building operation costs

MANKATO — Only about a dozen community members attended Thursday night's informational meeting about Mankato Area Public Schools' $69.5 million bond question on the Nov. 5 ballot.

But many of them brought good questions to the East High School media center about such things as operational costs associated with an entire new middle school building and expected class sizes if voters pass the referendum, among other things.

The bond includes a $50.1 million middle school; an $8.4 million addition to Dakota Meadows Middle School, making it a grades 6-8 school; a $2 million expansion of West High School's cafeteria; and a $5.6 million East Junior/High School renovation, which would turn the facility solely into a high school (with the junior high students attending the new middle school).

A $1.8 million Garfield Elementary School renovation would allow the sixth-grade facility to accommodate grades K-6. (Bridges Elementary would move into Garfield to allow that school to expand, and district programs would be moved into Bridges' current building. Students who would now attend Garfield would go to Dakota Meadows.)

Other costs include $600,000 for construction management and $950,000 for bond issuance costs.

Supt. Sheri Allen outlined the projects Thursday and made it clear why they were needed.

“If there's anything I'm sure you know, we're growing,” she said, emphasizing the expected 10 percent population growth over the next five years. “We're not saying we hope they come. They're here.”

The location of the school was a question several audience members had. While the location won't be determined until after the vote, Allen said the district has been looking into various pieces of land on either side of Highway 22 on the east side of the district, where the most growth is occurring.

Questions also were asked about staffing, maintenance and utility costs associated with a large new middle school facility.

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