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Helmut Schmidt, Published February 18 2013

Pelican Rapids holds meeting on high school plans Tuesday night

PELICAN RAPIDS, Minn. – School district residents can get their questions answered Tuesday about an $18.47 million bond vote to pay for major upgrades at Pelican Rapids High School.

The community information meeting, which will include a tour of the building, runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.

The original building was built in 1928, with additions made in 1953, 1962, 1965, 1972 and 1987. The result over time is a maze of 11 different levels.

Superintendent Deb Wanek said if voters approve bonding for the project in its March 12 vote, it will solve a lot of access, security and instructional headaches.

“Our rooms are just not up to what we want” to handle modern science instruction, she said. “We just need to have those rooms updated. Technology has changed.”

Proposed upgrades include:

• Replacing the fine arts auditorium for classroom, theater, music and social events: $5,212,835.

• New gym, locker room and activities spaces: $4,659,721.

Wanek said the school has one regulation gym, which means practices go late into the evening.

“We need facilities for those students so they can participate at the level they want to participate,” she said.

• Security entrance and work on the student commons and cafeteria: $5,168,087.

That includes a new single secure entrance to the school and adjacent office; expanding the kitchen and cafeteria and relocating the loading dock; a dedicated multi-use instructional space; new student drop-off drive off Highway 59 for safety; improved access and flow through the building.

• Deferred maintenance and interior renovations: $3,429,357. Science labs and classrooms would be renovated. Junior high school classrooms would be renovated and modernized; doing deferred maintenance of windows, flooring and roofs; improving lighting at existing outdoor facilities.

Pelican Rapids has about 470 students in grades 7-12, Wanek said.

A plan to build a new high school was handily defeated in a 2005 vote. That factored into the decision to renovate the current school, she said.

“There are some that wish we would have gone with a new building,” Wanek said. But if the remodeling is done well, it will look “really, really good.”

Approval of the bond issue requires a simple majority of those voting, Wanek said.

A homeowner with a house with a market value of $50,000 would pay $20 a year more in property taxes. A home worth $100,000 would have $49 tacked on to the annual tax bill. And a home worth $300,000 would see another $197 in taxes annually.

The owner of a commercial or industrial property worth $250,000 would pay $289 more a year in property taxes. A property worth $1 million would pay $1,308 more in taxes.

The district’s website, www.pelicanrapids.k12.mn.us, has a tax calculator for homes, businesses, agricultural and seasonal recreational properties.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583