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Column: Parents, school staff members share stories of school space issues

By Scott Rosenberg, District 518

The Worthington School District has changed a lot in the last 10 years, with enrollment growth at 1,100 students more than we had in 2007 — that’s more than 40 classrooms of kids. We hope to address space concerns in a way that will continue to allow room to learn and room to grow for years to come with the upcoming Feb. 13 referendum.

New video available now

We have spoken to many people — community members, parents and teachers — about what they have seen happening in Worthington Schools over the last few years as enrollment has grown. We were fortunate that many agreed to share their observations of how things have changed in a short video that you can find on our website at www.isd518.net.

In their own words: For those of you who prefer the printed word over finding and watching an internet video, here are some of their quotes.

“All we need to do is to understand that our schools are overcrowded. It’s a good problem, a different problem than a lot of school districts especially in rural Minnesota are having. Let’s not make it more complicated than it is. It’s simply a matter of overcrowding.” — Jason Turner, business owner and parent

“If our schools aren’t strong, growth opportunities aren’t going to be there. We’re doing a great job of it, but we’ve got another step to make and that’s to make our schools more accessible to everybody.” — Andy Johnson, Chamber president, YMCA Director

“You know when one of our new teachers here told me that they have cubicles for workspace, I’m like, ‘What, a cubicle, are you serious?’ I’ve never heard of that — who has a cubicle for a teacher workspace? It just boggled my mind; it made me realize ‘Wow, that’s a really big issue.’ If I was a teacher, I would think twice about being here because I don’t have my own classroom, I don’t have a space to work in, you know. As a teacher, it affects how you are going to teach. And that’s where as a parent I come in and say, ‘Wait a minute, you know what, the better the teachers can be equipped, the better the effect with my kid,’ you know? Kids are learning, teachers are doing their best, but you’ve got to give them the resources they need to continue to grow and be more effective. — Vandenn Krouch, parent

“Being jam-packed begins to eventually affect that quality of education. Every time we’ve done the system checks on the quality of education, we’re right there with everybody else. It’s just a matter of, when you have space issues, and you’re educating kids in a closet versus a classroom, that’s just not good for education.” — John Landgaard, superintendent

“Community members asked to have numerous options evaluated. We asked our architects, Wold Engineering, a highly respected school architectural firm, to provide us with cost estimates on every imaginable, realistic alternative, and then explored the benefits of each. The resulting project the school board chose, with community guidance, costs $10 million less and is the most cost-effective approach for the long-term. The ultimate goal, long term, is to create space in all the buildings. Yes, we have a space crunch at Prairie Elementary, but that is also now seen at the middle school and moving to the high school. Our solution solves the issues of enrollment growth at all the buildings. It’s an encompassing solution.” — Lori Dudley, school board chair

“Strong school systems equal strong communities. When a child graduates from Worthington High School, they are ready for success.” — Mike Kuhle, Worthington Mayor

Learn more about the 2018 referendum

An open house with presentation will be held Tuesday, Jan. 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Worthington High School Cafeteria. You are invited to drop in anytime and stay as long as you would like.

We appreciate your efforts to make an informed decision in this election. You can find more referendum information on the district website. Feel free to contact us at info@isd518.net or by phone at 372-2172 with any questions.  

Scott Rosenberg is a member of the District 518 Board of Education.

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