The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 18, 2012

Company pledges $100,000 if USC school referendum passes

WELLS — The United South Central School District has even more at stake with its Aug. 14 referendum, to the tune of $100,000.

Bevcomm, a Blue Earth-based Internet and telecommunications company, has pledged a $100,000 donation to USC if its referendum for a much-needed new school building passes.

“It was a surprise,” said Supt. Jerry Jensen. “It would be really tremendous for our kids. We are really grateful.”

Jensen said a committee would be formed to determine what kind of equipment and programs the district would purchase with the funds.

 If the referendum doesn’t pass, the old structure and wiring of the existing building make it difficult to implement technology, Jensen said.

A remodel and upgrades of the school would cost about $19.6 million, Jensen said. The School Board decided a new 155,000-square-foot building at a cost of about $28.8 million made the most sense.

If the bond referendum passes, construction of the new pre-K through 12th-grade building (the only school in the district) would begin spring 2013 on a 63-acre site on the southwest corner of Wells. The flat agricultural land is within the city limits. The new school likely would be open by the fall of 2014, Jensen said.

Three bond referendums in the USC district failed in the mid-2000s. The district took a few years off from trying to pass another, but Jensen is more optimistic going into the district’s fourth attempt.

This time, he said, the community has a better understanding of just how dire the circumstances have become at the school in Wells.

“Ninety-five percent of our facility is over 50 years old,” Jensen said in June. “Maintenance and upkeep gets more and more difficult. We have to do some massive upgrades if we’re going to look at staying at this site.”

There are deficiencies with plumbing, handicap accessibility, air quality and classroom sizes. The structure and wiring also make it difficult to integrate technology into the classrooms.

If the bond passes, estimated tax increases would be $184 per year on a $100,000 home.

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