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District 88 OKs building sale

Seeking $45 million for new high school, updating other sites is approved

March 28, 2014

NEW ULM — The District 88 Board of Education Thursday night approved the sale of the former school at 15 N. State St. to a group called Cenate....

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Apr-02-14 8:35 PM

You are right, deerhunt, but the buildings certainly are overcrowded. Those portable classrooms were supposed to be temporary.

Whatever we do, it needs to be a long term solution. Enough of the additions, bump outs and band aids. We need to quit kicking the can down the road and invest in the long term.

Overcrowded classrooms do not support good education.

Whatever people's decisions are, I hope they get themselves familiar with the facts from both sides.

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Apr-02-14 4:35 PM

To pass this referendum I would like to know exactly how the money will improve the kids education. Will they be getting better grades than currently because of this or is this we feel we need something shiny and new to feel good about? We don't want to teach our kids that we have to build a new school to keep up with the neighbors, I would rather see the money spent on curriculum and quality teachers, that is where it all takes place. You could teach them in a machine shed with the right people , this is proven in a lot of other countries. Let's not forget what the point of sending them to school is, not fancy sports complexes or monumental structures, getting a quality education is what will matter to them later in life. If we spend the money and the average test scores don't go up than we have failed our children.

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Apr-02-14 1:34 AM

Those are quite the acquisitions that you are making, JR.

If you remember the bleak financial state that the school district was back when Pawlenty was governor, the district was looking to cut costs. If I am not mistaken, it cost as much to operate the middle school as it did several other buildings within the district. They were also told that if they were to continue to use it as classrooms that they would have to invest millions of dollars into it for code compliance. I would assume that would possibly include sprinklers, egress exits, fire alarm upgrades, electrical upgrades, HVAC upgrades, etc.

And still, there would be no green space.

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Apr-01-14 6:34 PM


The decision to move toward a new school pre-dates the formation of any task force. It began before the middle school was closed. The plan has it has been unfolding now has always been what the district had designed. It is just now coming to fruition.

They knew as soon as the middle school was closed the remaining buildings would become crowded making it appear that a new building was necessary. This was designed to make the parents with children in crowded classrooms in line to support a new building. It is nothing more than an ill fated attempt to use our children as pawns.

What I want to know is what contingency plan the district has if the referendum fails to bring them a new high school.

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Apr-01-14 1:43 AM

Okay, so what do we do now? Enrollment has taken an unforeseen U-Turn. Is somebody to blame? Maybe it was a cold winter several years ago. Either way, the building cannot be used as a school again. The state will not allow it. Take a tour of the schools. They are packed tight. Many of the classrooms that once held 35 kids are now housing special ed classes with a few kids in them. That is a mandate that the district must follow.

How about offering some viable solutions for once. How about getting involved. Attend a board meeting. Volunteer for a task force. Be part of the solution instead of whining about the decisions of those who were put into board decisions.

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Mar-31-14 5:37 PM

Complaining from our mother`s basement?.......Seriously? Some people are fiscally conservative. How often does government spend money wisely? I was told by someone close to this process that the idea of a new school was just a thought, if they had all the money they needed. Well, you still don`t. I stand by my original assessment. We were told class sizes were going down, didn`t need the room. Classes 7-12 in the same building was fine. How can anybody make a good decision when the people closest to the info can`t.

Manufacturing over the last 15-20 years has taken a butt kicking. We have had to learn to do more with less. Government should learn that. If the school district is in better financial shape, great! Then they should start saving money for the next rainy day.

And just because someone doesn`t agree with putting up a new school doesn`t mean they are not for the kids.

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Mar-31-14 12:16 PM

It sure is easy to complain from your mother's basement after the fact, isn't it?

How many of you sit on boards and committees? It has been no secret that the district has been trying to sell this building for several years. I think they would have given it away for as little as $1 to the right group if they wouldn't have found someone interested in it soon. I hope the new tenants play nice with each other. Hopefully, this group of lawyers will write something in the contract for the future developer so that we don't have the same thing happen here as with the mall.

Either way, the district needs to look out for its needs, and this building clearly cannot fill the school districts needs if it doesn't have any land around it.

If any of you think that there was a better deal to be made, I ask you this: Why weren't you making an offer?

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Mar-31-14 7:39 AM

Maybe some of you haven't noticed, but the is no green space around this building, which is okay for some uses, but not for apartments. The district want all that interested in turning a profit since the cost to demo they building would have been nearly $1 million. Nobody said that the building isn't structurally sound and couldn't be used for something other than a school.

When the decision to close the building was made, enrollment was falling, the district was in poor financial shape and things turned around in both aspects.

If that building had more land around it, I truly believe that it would still be in use, but since it would not be feasible to knock over 2 city blocks of houses, it can't be used as a school anymore. From my understanding, the Department of Education will not allow it without green space.

The idea of two owners does scare me, though. Why hasn't our city council outlawed this after the great Danielson Debacle?

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Mar-30-14 7:32 AM

It`s interesting that the building isn`t good enough to return back into a school, but, we can make apartments out of it. Wouldn`t historical land mark status limit investor interest because of the restrictions on what they can do? If someone develops it, they would be able to profit because, we, the tax payers helped them. What do we get in return, the building stays standing? They should have just fixed it up as a school, as it was meant to be. What was so wrong about continuing the tradition of the Junior High? Sure it would have cost money. A new school won`t be free either. Maybe the tax increase doesn`t seem like much to the school board, but, you can bet they will be coming after us for more money for other things before the new school is paid off. Why do we always have to throw things away just because it is old? Shame on somebody!

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Mar-29-14 5:14 PM

Is this someone trying to get rich off of the poor people of New Ulm and of course say for the good of our children and we all say yes.Is the population of New Ulm going up or down. My children choice to leave here no future.After college that was it for them.

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Mar-29-14 11:34 AM

If I remember right, didn't Randy D say that he was going to restore Georges Ballroom? I'm sure the county is licking their chops on this deal. Cenate set up their LLC a month ago and looking down the road I figure the LLC will go down the tubes and they will have made a nice profit. A group of Lawyers are not going to do this for NOTHING! They are going to try and get tax credits on an old school? What's historic about an old school? It would be interesting to see a list of names of the Cenate group so I can thank them for all the good deeds they are about to do.LOL!

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Mar-29-14 10:18 AM

I heard that Cenate is made up of New Ulm lawyers.So if something does go wrong Cenate can sue the school district and get their investment back and more.I say we build a new building with a new Auditorium and new gymnasium and keep all the current buildings as is.Since the Federal government owns the murals we don't need to worry about their care.We spent millions of dollars removing mold and asbestos from the senior high some years ago so that building is up to date.New Ulm has lots of elderly citizens with limited income and the rest of us working folks have low paying jobs with limited income so we can't afford new schools unless some of the wealthy citizens pay for it. They got wealthy by paying low wages all these years it time for them to pay the community back.

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Mar-29-14 5:25 AM

It wasn`t too long ago we were told that class sizes were going down, didn`t need the room and could save money by closing the Junior High building. We were told that 7-12 in one building was going to be just fine. Now 7-12 in one building is a bad idea and we don`t have enough room? Does any body know what is going on? I also find it hard to believe that Cenate is just a benevolent group that wants to help the community,they smell profit. I thought it was a less than stellar choice to sell the old building before you had the approval from the taxpayers to build something new. Now, after being fed all of this, can I still keep my doctor?

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Mar-29-14 1:22 AM

who is Cenate? Is it just Cenate or is it Cenate LLC? Is this people who will bring pride to New Ulm, or more shame like the mall? Why does everything have to be split and just not sold out right?

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Mar-28-14 1:54 PM

If 70K per year of maintenance is required what assurances did the school receive from Cenate for spending the same in maintenance over the next 2 years? Who are these wonderful community leaders that are part of Cenate? Do we not deserve to know if there any conflicts of interest? What is real cost of keeping building mostly as is? That is loss of revenue on land sale only and loss of yearly revenue on property taxes of single family residential use of the property?

How are taxpayer interests served with Senior center theatre space, new community theatre in Jr. location, and yet one more community preforming arts venue with new high school?

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Mar-28-14 8:04 AM

tax increase once AGAIN... Once, maybe twice, but trice?? One board member last night stated "a building that lasts & lasts & lasts...." How old is the current high school?

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Mar-28-14 6:21 AM

Splitting it into 2 sections huh! And look how that turned out with the "Mall".

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Mar-28-14 2:29 AM

Does Sharon Gieseke have any other suggestions to the issues with the existing buildings? Would she like to continue to spend $70,000 a year plus necessary maintenance costs while we wait for a better offer?

I don't have a problem with her casting a no vote. I would like to know, though, what she considers a better idea. Does anybody know her opinions on these issues and why she feels that way?

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