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District 88 panel opts for new high school

March 12, 2014

NEW ULM — The District 88 Facilities Task Force will recommend a plan that calls for building a new high school in New Ulm, its members decided at their fourth and final meeting Tuesday....

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Mar-12-14 2:12 PM

I think instead of spending all kinds of money for building a new school you should use the ones that you have already like the one on washington st that could used again.Everybody wants to spend money what about the old days when you would use what you have and save the money for when you really need it this world is all about spend spend what you dont have

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Mar-12-14 3:06 PM

The only new school should be to teach the school board how to live with-in a budget!!.......people could use their own money for things like shingling their own homes or food an not another forced slavery.......

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Mar-12-14 3:21 PM

"Making the case for a new high school, Task Force members said that it would be a major draw for new and existing industry and employees. The concept is to create a regional center of educational excellence that would attract students and families, ensuring the viability of the community."

Build it and they will come...???

It sure would be nice to see something more tangible than some generalizations about how a new high school will bring all those people and businesses to town. And, academic excellence can and should be achieved without a new building. You better come up with something more concrete if you want taxpayers to foot the 45 million bill for this.

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Mar-12-14 3:50 PM

The existing schools will still be used. The new high school will be much needed additional space. New Ulm needs to have a strong public school system or this town will die. Young families will not live in a city that doesn't value their children. The money spent will be a wise investment in the future and I support it 100 percent!

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Mar-12-14 5:23 PM

From my understanding, the old Junior High would need several million dollars pumped into it to even meet code. Then, it would need somewhere between 2 and 3 city blocks of houses knocked down to have enough green space to meet Minnesota standards.

As previously reported in The Journal, Mankato is building their second new school in about 5 years. Saint Peter is looking at a new school, Cleveland is working on something. St. Paul's is looking at a major addition. I have heard of businesses that are saying that they support this because they are having a hard time finding a qualified workforce to either stay in New Ulm, or move to New Ulm.

It seems to be the best option. Spending 35 million to add on to these 50 year old buildings seems foolish when for 45 million, you get a modern school that is more conducive to learning. Also, it would remove a lot of the congestion on Payne and Garden Streets. Eventually, you have to quit kicking the can down the road.

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Mar-12-14 5:27 PM

Shakopee is expected to pass a $90 million referendum for a new school. Mankato's was $69.5 million on top of whatever the Rosa Parks referendum cost.

If we don't invest in our community, people will leave, jobs will leave, and housing values will drop.

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Mar-12-14 6:18 PM

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Mar-12-14 6:42 PM

.....other than the liberals starting to take over our town.......whats wrong with it? You want to compare it to other towns an the draw to new families?......think about it.......would you trust sending your kid's out to play in the park in Mankato?? or even to walk in the dark?.......more population usually brings more crime!.....not to mention more taxes to pay for more police,bigger fire departments, more city services an maintenance's an when you talk of higher home value??.....think again!! higher home value means higher real-estate taxes!!.....i would sooner spend my own money on things i feel is important.....not things like a Viking stadium! this is what happens when you let the brainless create the rules!!

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Mar-12-14 7:16 PM

By Sheepherder's reasoning, we would be better off living in Hanska or Lafayette. Who needs those pesky schools, anyway.

Higher property values do not mean higher taxes when everybody's property taxes go up uniformly.

The Middle School will soon be sold off. The district needs more gym space and an auditorium. Special Education classes are required by law and there isn't enough space in the three buildings. Student population did not drop like it was expected.

What should they do? How about some ideas.

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Mar-12-14 7:19 PM

When the last operating referendum passed, the business community showed strong support for it. Why do you suppose that is? They know that one thing that every thriving community has in common is that they invest in good schools.

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Mar-13-14 8:01 AM

I would like an explanation of needing 140,000 sq. feet for 827 kids is realistic. At a cost of 30 million for the high school that equals $725 /pupil for the next 50 years and 170 sq. feet per pupil which is larger than my office. I just need to know how this will improve their education, that is what we send them there for . This is in addition to the current space we have , why does the annex have to be torn down, why is Washington only capable of handling early childhood and kindergarten as compared to when I went there it housed 3 grades plus 1/2 of kindergarten? How much square footage do we need, is the population of New Ulm exploding? To sell this there needs to be a better explanation, more square footage equals more maintenance expenses also. If Kraft moves out can we still afford it ? I think the district needs to do a better job explaining if they expect to get this approved by the voters.

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Mar-13-14 10:18 AM

Mankato, St. Peter, and Shakopee aren't building schools to attract new business. This is a total myth. They are building new schools because their student populations continue to increase. New Ulm is in a different situation completely. Enrollment numbers continue to decline in New Ulm. The only reason they are considering a new high school is because of the current state of the middle school.

People will move to town when there are jobs that pay enough to support their families. Another critical factor is how affordable the community is to live. Raising property taxes on a base that is static (at best) only increases the costs and erodes the affordability of the community. Those very businesses you hope to attract are going to look elsewhere if New Ulm remains too expensive to consider as a choice to open or expand a business.

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Mar-13-14 10:21 AM

My kids are enrolled in St. Paul's and MVL, but 100% in support of a new school for ISD 88. Talk of a water park, Menard's, Wal-Mart, Vogel Fieldhouse packed every night, talk of AmericanInn building out by Wal-Mart, maybe a new school for NU Public, I love it! Honestly, if you cannot afford what referendums do to your taxes, then you are not spending within your means. Keep growing and building New Ulm!

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Mar-13-14 10:25 AM

I wonder if all of those doubters who say, what we have is "Good Enough" or why do we need something new or shiny, use the old it is good enough. Have you ever been to Jefferson or Washington when the temp outside is below zero during lunch time. Have you ever walked the halls of those schools and seen how cramped those kids are. This task force was open to the public maybe instead of sitting behind the computer spouting negativity or misconceptions you could have joined our group, had your voice heard, offered an alternative solution. This Task Force looked at every solution, and a New High School turned out to be the best solution to the problem. Let's support our kids! I hope that we can provide everyone with all of the information that will help answer all of questions and concerns. **Please excuse any spelling errors**

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Mar-13-14 10:28 AM

Not that its probably a good gage, but I think its encouraging that when the "glom and doom, the sky will fall and I will have to eat ramon noddles the rest of my life negative nelly's if my taxes go up" authors on here post, the disagrees highly out number the agrees. That was not the case on articles such as this one just five or so years ago. Maybe, just maybe we are turning the corner here on the dying community. Build, I think I can hack the increase.

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Mar-13-14 10:31 AM

Jessica , saying that people are not living within their means if they cannot afford higher taxes is an unfair statement. The lower your income is the less disposable income you have and you are hit harder by these increases. These property tax increases figure into everything you buy in town. It may seem slight but costs have to be passed on if you want to succeed in business. You also want an extension of the sales tax for a waterpark ,you make New Ulm sound like a bunch of elitists that don't want or need the lower class. You have to keep things affordable for young families starting out or they move elsewhere. Why do you think Courtland keeps adding more homes and people. They keep their taxes low , drawing a lot of young families to their town.

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Mar-13-14 2:44 PM

If you get allot more people to come to town you will have allot more crime and then your children will not be safe anyway.So the people that think that this is a good idea are you going to pay for the people's at rent when the taxes go up so will the rent and then there will be a homeless problem because people will not be able to afford the rent then they will have to move out and then you will be seeing homeless people all over new ulm. Well then the old middle school should be turned in to apartments for low income people.The utilities. How many preschool/daycare's are there in this town already.I think they should see about how much it would cost to use some of the empty building in town because there are allot of them that I see.When I was going to school we did not have air and if it is cold look at some houses that are not perfect.

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Mar-13-14 6:49 PM

Do you know what really increases crime? Empty buildings, low incomes, poverty. If you let New Ulm's economy go in the toilet when all the families decide to move to greener pastures, you will see crime rates increase.

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Mar-14-14 7:09 AM

New Ulm's enrollment numbers stabilized two years ago and are now increasing. We also rent 8 portable classrooms for our math class at about $50,000 a year. The high school is packed to the gills with kids.

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Mar-14-14 10:07 AM

Deerhunt, where do most Courtland kids attend school. Oh ya, ISD 88! They would still have to pay any district referendums on their property taxes, so that kind of shoots your theory down.

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Mar-14-14 10:56 AM

Mama, you totally miss the point, people move where the cost of living is more affordable. Living in Courtland helps pay for your school and that is it. That is probably the only reason your enrollment is up due to the growth around the area, New Ulm's population is declining . I have heard that another large business in New Ulm is thinking about starting another facility outside of New Ulm due to the high utility costs. Your town's population is on the decline, that is a fact. Maybe Courtland should be the home for the new school, there population is not that far behind Nicollet. Do you really believe your decline is attributed to not having a new high school or waterpark? Business's move where they get the best deals , New Ulm is more concerned about festivals.

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Mar-14-14 11:06 AM

As in business ,there needs to be an explanation of needing 140,000 new square feet, that is a very large amount. People like me need to be convinced of the need, especially when financial times are still tight yet. We need to be convinced that if the recession gets worse or Kraft leaves town that we can still afford it. Show us how this will improve the quality of the education for the children. Make these points clear and you will find it easier to pass a referendum. Points like if we build a new school, business will come here don't hold water ,present facts that convince us. I would vote for it if I am presented with information(facts) that make the case. You need to become salesman , not attack us for having a different viewpoint. People shutdown and don't listen when attacked.

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Mar-14-14 1:04 PM

Very good points Deerhunt. I'd vote for the new school too if it makes sense. Right now nobody has provided anything tangible that supports the notion that a new high school is the best option. Just because a task force reached that conclusion doesn't translate to the general voting population to rubber stamp it. So far the only thing tangible thing I can walk away with this proposal is that it is nearly 29% more expensive than the nearest alternative.

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Mar-14-14 1:43 PM

You have some good questions, Deerhunt.

The square footage includes the gymnasium and performing arts spaces. On top of that, there are standards of so many square feet per student for cafeteria space, classrooms, special education, etc.

Things such as State mandated special education programs, as well as all day you kindergarten, 3 and 4 year old preschool, and ECFE classes are all things that need space within the district. These things just didn't exist 50 years ago.

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Mar-14-14 2:01 PM

They don't "need" a new school, but they will need more gym and performing arts space.

For $35 million, they can put on additions to the schools, taking away more green space and possibly having to add on more space in the future. This also will not help the traffic issues on Payne and Garden Streets.

For 45 million, they get a whole new campus on 60 acres. History shows that if they build on the edge of town that it will spur new neighborhoods, which is a bonus. New neighborhoods mean more tax dollars.

In the end, it comes down $35 million in additions or $45 million in minor changes to existing buildings, maintenance issues, and then a new campus. To me, it seems ridiculous to spend $35 million adding on to these buildings.

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