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GFW board considers Fairfax school sale

FAIRFAX — The Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) School Board will meet in closed session to consider offers or counteroffers for the purchase of the former GFW Middle School in Fairfax Oct.19.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Fairfax Community Center, 300 Park St. S. The meeting will reconvene to open session after the closed session and any action related to the closed session will be made known.

Last February, the school board approved a resolution by a 4-2 vote to close the Fairfax school at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Fairfax board members Becky Vos and Marisa Lee voted against the measure.

A few minutes prior to the resolution to close the Fairfax school, a resolution to close the Gibbon school came on a motion by Lee, seconded by Vos. The other four board members, from Gibbon and Winthrop, voted against the resolution.

Prior to the resolution to close the Gibbon school, Vos said closing the Gibbon school would have enabled the school district to receive about $250,000 in free utilities for the Fairfax school, for up to four years, from the City of Fairfax.

Earlier in the meeting, Vos thanked school district administration for working “non stop” to help the board make a school closure decision. She also thanked the school board.

The board decision to close the Fairfax school was forwarded to the Minnesota Department of Education for a recommendation on the school district’s statutory operating debt plan. The plan was then forwarded to the Minnesota education commissioner for approval.

In August, GFW voters approved a 10-year operating levy referendum question by a vote of 1,406 to 836.

GFW Superintendent Jeff Horton said he was excited and humbled by the vote.

“We are eternally grateful to our community for this affirmation of our needs,” said Horton in a media release. “Students will benefit from this investment for years. Thank you for your support… We believe there is common ground in supporting the needs of our children among all our students.”

Other meeting agenda items include Elementary Principal Jennifer Thompson’s report on the T-Bird Way/7 Mindsets.

“We are in the process of hiring a social-emotional learning specialist to work with classrooms on the 7 Mindsets” (everything is possible, passion first, we are connected, 100% accountable, attitude of gratitude, live to give and the time is now).

Thompson said the specialist will also reinforce T-Bird Way (be respectful, responsible and safe).

In another matter, Thompson thanked Guidecraft USA of Winthrop for providing a rent-free space for the theater department to store costumes, props and set pieces.

“The board is looking forward to the summer of 2021 and hoping that the art camp and ‘The Sound of Music’ can take place,” Thompson reported.

She added that the elementary school continues to work on targeted improvement with a focus on literacy. A comprehensive needs assessment beginning with data collection and team member training is being done.

GFW Facility Manager Dave Sellner reported that Kiecker Electric replaced 16 football field lights, a water heater was replaced in the Winthrop school, lines were repainted in the Gibbon gym, MR Paving & Excavating was contacted for a track repair estimate, scheduled replacement of failed air handler fan shaft bearings, and classroom walk-through to verify six-foot spacing was done.

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

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