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GFW may buy land

Staff photo by Fritz Busch The Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) school board unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday to purchase 50 acres of land on the northeast edge of Gibbon for construction of a new, single-site PreK-12 facility. The purchase agreement is pending passage of a proposed school bond referendum to be decided Nov. 5 by district voters.

GIBBON — The Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) school board unanimously approved a purchase agreement Wednesday for 50 acres of land pending passage of a Nov. 5 bond referendum.

Action came on a motion by board member Phil Klenk, seconded by Jason Haas, to purchase land just northeast of Gibbon, north of State Highway 19 and the former Gibbon Ballroom.

Superintendent Lonnie Seifert said an agreement to buy the land for $662,500 ($13,250/acre) from landowners Dale and Jon Forst is expected to be signed in the coming days.

“They (the Forsts) have been good to work with. We feel comfortable it’s build-able. But we’ll still do soil borings,” Seifert said.

Purchase agreement requirements include the school district submitting a water runoff plan 60 days before the property sale closing date. Seifert said the Forsts request a $250 per acre payment for any lost crop during the season when the school would be built.

By unanimous vote on June 27, the school board directed district administration to prepare and submit the proposed bond referendum election information for review and comment, to Minnesota Commissioner of Education Mary Cathryn Ricker.

Pending Nov. 5 voter approval, financing for the proposed $49,713,896 project including all estimated capitalized interest and related bond issuance costs will be secured through the sale of bonds with payment coming over a 20-year period.

In an Aug. 13 letter to Ricker, Seifert wrote “all three of our buildings contain portions that were built more than 80 years ago. Sixty percent of the square footage in the buildings is more than 50 years old.

“As a result, we have come to a time where our buildings are in need of more upgrades and changes than we can fiscally provide through debt service and LTFM (long-term facilities maintenance). This project will address issues and provide students with a more secure learning environment with opportunities for personalized learning, flexible spaces, and access to 21st century education including enhances career technical classes.”

Future GFW bond referendum informational meetings are set for 6:30 p.m. in school cafeterias on Tuesday, Sept. 17, in Gibbon; Monday, Sept. 23, in Fairfax; Monday, Sept. 30, in the Winthrop media center; Tuesday, Oct. 1, in Gibbon; Tuesday, Oct. 8, in Fairfax and Tuesday, Oct. 15, in the Winthrop media center.

The board unanimously approved extending school readiness teacher Sharon Schiro’s medical leave of absence by 10 days.

For more information, visit https://gfwschools.org

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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