by LAURA HAYES
After Thursday’s meeting, the Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) Board will meet in a session closed to the public to consider purchasing a $60,000 piece of property next to the bleachers at Paul Giel Field. WAPS Interim Superintendent Kelly Halvorsen said that the property — 1377 West Fourth Street — recently came for sale.
The district is closing a meeting to discuss the purchase of that property and whether that would be something the School Board is interested in, Halvorsen said. Halvorsen said that she could not disclose yet what the district wants to do with that property. In 2016, the property was assessed at just under $60,000 — $58,800 to be exact.
Currently, the district is faced with making $1.5 million in budget cuts for the upcoming school year, and $5.18 million over the next five years. According to WAPS administrators, aging schools and declining student enrollment have led to the need for budget cuts. Last month, WAPS formed a budget reduction committee to help brainstorm what programs and services will be cut. With the budget reduction plan that the School Board approved, Director of Finances Sarah Slaby estimated that the cuts would increase WAPS’ diminishing general fund reserves by .50 percent to 13.50 percent by 2022 — which is below the School Board’s goal of having 16.67 percent, or two months of expenditures, set aside.
Additionally, during Thursday’s School Board meeting, the board will discuss meeting with city leaders to examine if there is any available land that the district could use for a new elementary school. After the School Board approved an almost $90 million facility plan that would expand Jefferson and Goodview in December, during recent meetings, several board members expressed interest in working with the city to evaluate if there is any available land for a new elementary school in Winona — particularly on the East End.
In the past, some School Board members expressed a desire to make W-K — which is one of the schools currently on the chopping block — the site of a new school and see if the district could acquire any land near the school. A new school, however, was not part of the approved facility plan. This meeting between city and district leaders will be held on Tuesday, February 28, at 4 p.m., in city hall council chambers. The meeting is open to the public.
Thursday’s School Board meeting will be held at 6 p.m., at city hall. The meeting is open to the public. During the start of the meeting, members of the public have up to five meetings to address the board.