Project to be split into two questions, to cost approximately $27 million
By Chad Koenen
The Henning School Board is one step closer to seeking voter approval for what could be a $27 million building project.
During its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night, the Henning School Board authorized the district administration to work with consultants to submit all of the required information to the Commissioner of Education to request a review and comment on two questions for a Nov. 8, 2022 referendum. Once the project has been reviewed, the school district could seek voter approval for a two question referendum this fall.
The first question would be for approximately $22.35 million and would include a new cafeteria, commons, administration office and classroom addition. There would also be a new CTE addition, indoor air quality improvements, deferred maintenance improvements, a new parking lot with parent drop off loop and several other projects.
The second question would seek voter approval for a $4.4 million construction project to add a new gymnasium, as well as deferred maintenance. The second question would be contingent on the first question being approved by voters.
Prior to moving forward with the building referendum, the school district hosted a community meeting to get input from potential voters.
Over 50 people attended a facilities meeting on July 13.
Henning School Superintendent Melissa Sparks said 45 people returned surveys about the proposed referendum and the district received mostly positive feedback. For example, 33 people said they would be in favor of the first question of a potential referendum, while only 4 people said no. For a second question with a gym, 35 people were in favor of the project, while only 5 people said no.
A total of 41 people said the district needs to invest in their current facility with just 1 person saying no.
The school district also asked those who attended the meeting about their comfort when it comes to a potential tax impact. The results showed that 7 people preferred $1-20 per month increase, 13 people favored a $21-30 a month increase, 5 people favored a $31-40 a month increase, while 15 people were in favor of $41 or more per month.
Of the people who attended the meeting, 35 people said they would support a referendum in the fall, while only 5 people said no.
In other news
• Accepted a donation from First National Bank of Henning, Ottertail and Battle Lake for money raised during the summer rec fundraiser in July, as well as a donation for a lactation/quiet room from the Henning Area Christian Fellowship group.
• Approved a starting wage of $13 an hour for fitness center employees, beginning with the start date of the May 2022 hires.
• Approved the payment of three additional days worked by Henning Principal Thomas Williams beyond his contracted time.
• Approved setting a work session for Aug. 15 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the upcoming levy/referendum.
• Heard the school district was notified that it was awarded a grant in the amount of $22,950 to install stop arm cameras on all 10 of its school buses.