Opinion: FFHS facility vote is Tuesday [UPDATED]Published 9:15am Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Updated 11:15am Wednesday, May 7, 2014
With the upcoming Fergus Falls School District bond referendum scheduled for next Tuesday, May 13, several School Board members would like to take a moment to share their thoughts with the community.
Board Chair, Melanie Cole states: “This referendum is important for the School District and the community to address deficiencies in the current school facilities. Unlike city or county government, we can’t set aside money for projects. We don’t have a budget that allows us to make large changes in our facilities without the public’s support and ‘yes’ vote — so if the bond doesn’t pass, we would have to take money from the classroom or make further cuts to staff in order to remove the condemned bleachers.
Board Vice Chair, Matt Lemke commented: “On Tuesday, I would like to encourage everyone to take the time and vote on the proposed improvements to our district facilities. As one of the School Board members, I believe we have worked hard to balance the needs of the district facilities with trying to give as much value to the proposed bond referendum as possible. We have tried to address many of the community questions and concerns by reducing the overall project cost and at the same time keeping the project as a long-term solution to our facility issues. If the bond passes on May 13, the School Board will do its best to make sure that everyone in our community will be pleased with the investment.”
Board member Jeff Hohrman shares: “I have heard some people say that our current facilities — which we hope to improve and update with the bond referendum — are ‘good enough.’ What message does that send to our students who are the future of not only our community, but also our world?
“We use our slogan, “Where excellence is expected,” when referring to all aspects of our School District. So if we are striving for excellence within our schools, the words ‘good enough’ should not be the message we send to our students about any part of their educational experience or about how they should view their lives. We are asking the community to invest in their future.
Darrel Tungseth, Board member since 2006, commented: “The facility improvement project has an emphasis on physical education, fine arts and the community. The auditorium, pool, track, tennis courts and the green space (old baseball field) continue to be heavily used by the community and students during the school day and evening. The state legislature uses a bond referendum election for school districts to request approval from their community for larger items, which allows districts to use the regular budget for educational purposes.”
Over the past few weeks, we have received questions about the home bleachers that were condemned and the proposed new bleachers. The architect who designed the Middle School building in the late 60s also designed the bleacher system. Unfortunately, the system was not designed correctly. It was designed to hold the cement planks from the old fair grounds, but not designed to hold the weight of people.
With this incorrect design, the bleachers have deteriorated to the point of being condemned.
The proposed new bleachers would be a 1,800-seat aluminum bleacher system that is handicapped accessible and would be placed on what use to be the visiting side. This placement would allow the new bleachers to be close to the school’s restroom facilities and parking lot.
Public Meeting Question
At the public meeting on the bond referendum held on April 24, the School District was asked if we would go out for another referendum in a few years, (for other projects). My reply was that the School Board and I would be very pleased to see this project pass, as it would address many immediate issues and would eliminate the need for additional projects. Also, if this referendum passes, the District would continue to work on the current 10-year facility management plan and manage projects within our own budget. Our goal is to maintain the fine facilities we have for the students, staff and community.