School, city meet on ways they can work together

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Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part story on a joint meeting of the District 777 Board of Education and Benson City Council on areas in which the two could possibly cooperate to serve the community.
This first story deals with the reason for the meeting as well as the financial challenges the two public bodies face. Next week’s story will address what became the primary focus of the discussion – the pressing need for day care facilities in not just Benson, but Swift County.

By Reed Anfinson

Both faced with potentially millions of dollars in facility upgrades as well as possible new construction, the City of Benson and District 777 Board of Education last week conducted a joint meeting to see where they might work together.

District 777’s Board of Education has been working with its Benson Schools Facility Task Force made up of 45 area people on a plan for building maintenance. It has also been looking at the potential need to expand the Northside Elementary School by six classrooms to accommodate the growing need for early childhood education space.

During the discussions with the members of the task force, some have raised questions about what the City of Benson and the school district can do together to possibly meet joint needs, Laumeyer said.

There are many areas where the interests of the city and the school overlap where they already share resources, Laumeyer said at the start of the meeting.

Benson school board is not looking for a handout from the city to help with its needs, he told the council. Rather, it is looking for ways the two can save taxpayers money by working together in areas where they have mutual interest.

It was the school district that initiated the joint meeting.

Council Members Jack Evenson and Sue Fitz were at the meeting along with Mayor Gary Landmark. Council Members Terri Collins and Stephanie Heinzig were absent due to illness. City Manager Rob Wolfington and Director Finance Glen Pederson were also at the meeting.

School board members attending the meeting included Chairman Chad Payne, Bill McGeary, Gary Williams, Andy Abner and Jody DeJong-Hughes as well as Supt. Dennis Laumeyer.

Others attending the meeting included Swift County-Benson Health Services (SCBHS) Trustees Brian Samuelson and Patty Schreck as well as CEO Kurt Waldbillig. Swift County Rural Development Authority (RDA) Executive Director Jennifer Frost was also at the meeting....


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