Meeting on school building levy Monday

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Next Monday District 777 is hosting the first of three community informational meetings about its $26.3 million building bond levy to be voted on Aug. 14.

The meeting will take place in the Benson High School cafeteria starting at 6 p.m. and is scheduled to last until 7:30 p.m. Meetings are also planned for Wednesday, July 18, and Tuesday, Aug, 7, at the same times.

Those attending the meetings should be aware that road construction is underway that blocks off entering the school senior high parking lot from the east or south. To get to the parking lot, take either 15th Street North by St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, or Oregon Avenue from the west and then turn north on 15th Street North.

District 777’s Board of Education turned to a citizens group made up of people representing three groups in the district – farmers and landowners, business owners and people from the community at large, and school staff.

The three groups met multiple times starting in January as they studied the condition of the school district’s buildings, the needs of its programs, the needs of the community and the future direction of educational facilities.

The proposals on the school district’s building needs were refined by representatives of the three groups with input from architect Paul Youngquist of Architects Rego + Youngquist of St. Louis Park.

As they studied a building project, the committees focused on the following:
1) Eliminating high maintenance spaces that are an unnecessary drain on school finances and resources.
2) Promoting the efficient use of school facilities. Currently, the swimming pool area and Junior High Auditorium are costly spaces that are not used. The pool is no longer used because its high cost of maintenance and low public use. A year ago, a small section of the ceiling in the 1928 auditorium fell into the balcony seating area. The building hasn’t been used since as the school board has studied options for its future.
3) Meeting the growing needs of the community for child care and pre-school space.
4) Expanding career and technical education spaces.
5) Enhancing activity spaces.
6) Improving safety and security at Benson Public Schools.

The final plan was presented to the board of education in May and unanimously approved.

Among the key features of the project are construction of new classrooms at the Northside Elementary School to house a centralized day care and pre-kindergarten program, the construction of a new performing arts center, and renovating the Senior High School to meet 21st Century collaborative education design needs....


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