The Free Press, Mankato, MN

St. Peter news

November 17, 2013

St. Peter students need room to move

Facilities task force examining need for new school building

(Continued)

“It's not necessary looking at 'yes or no,' just what are the barriers. Are we off base in what the community wants? Is it too costly?” Olson said.

If the community shows support, a bond question could be on the ballot by the spring or fall of 2015. A new school likely wouldn't open its doors until 2018, Olson said.

“The general buzz that I hear is, 'That's something we would be interested in, but we need to know more,'” Olson said.

Plan B, Olson said, would be looking at renting space or remodeling existing facilities. At South, Doherty said remodeling would be difficult due to its open-concept layout. An addition would be costly because of how the heating and ventilation is set up.

Matthew and Laurie Kelly, who have a third- and a fifth-grader in the district, moved to St. Peter from Arizona last year. Matthew Kelly said he's been impressed with the schools and teachers so far, and he'd definitely consider a bond question. But he would need more information on what exactly the money would be going for and the impact on taxes.

From what Kelly has gleaned of the St. Peter community, he said a referendum would likely be supported if a new school building is truly needed.

“I think it's a pretty supportive community,” Kelly said.

District-wide, while solutions are being developed, principals and teachers still have quite a wait for relief.

“Even if we're able to develop and execute a plan to address that overcrowding, we've still got it for five years,” Olson said.

Prafke said whatever the temporary solutions may be during the next several years, the administration and teachers will work hard to make sure the students are the least affected.

“The kids still receive excellent quality programs, it's just a little different setting,” Prafke said. “We'll do what we have to do.”

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