The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

August 14, 2012

United South Central to get new school

WELLS — United South Central Supt. Jerry Jensen breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday night when he learned the district’s bond referendum would be passed by voters.

“It’s just fantastic news for the students and the faculty and our parents and our communities in general,” Jensen said. “I think it’s going to be a great anchor for building a stronger community.”

With all 24 precincts reporting at about 11 p.m., 1,687 votes (57 percent) were in favor of the referendum and 1,259 (43 percent) were against. Jensen was excited and relieved the district would be able to build its new 155,000-square-foot building at a cost of about $28.8 million. Estimated tax increases will be $184 per year on a $100,000 home.

This is the fourth time in a decade the district attempted to pass such a referendum. A remodel and upgrades of the school would have cost about $19.6 million, Jensen said, due to deficiencies with plumbing, handicap accessibility, air quality and classroom sizes. The structure and wiring also make it difficult to integrate technology into the classrooms. So the School Board decided a new facility made the most sense.

Construction of the new pre-K through 12th-grade building (the only school in the district) will likely 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 2014, Jensen said.

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

Bevcomm, a Blue Earth-based Internet and telecommunications company, has pledged a $100,000 donation to USC if its referendum passes. The funds would likely be used for technology upgrades, Jensen said.

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