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Charter school still the plan

By Staff | Jul 19, 2010

Plans still call for the school in Winnebago, pictured above, to become a charter school.

Discussion of a charter school proposed in Winnebago last year was added to the City Council’s agenda on Tuesday night.

It was the first meeting for City Administrator Austin Bleess, so Mayor Randy Nowak wanted to make sure he was brought up to date on any progress that is being made.

Nowak questioned Scott Robertson, a member of the charter school steering committee.

Robertson says when the Legislature made spending cuts last year, everything was put on hold.

“It’s surprising the number of people that have not forgotten about it. There is still enthusiasm,” he says. “We’ve never considered the charter school to be a dead issue.”

The Legislature also has changed how charter schools operate, going from needing a “sponsor” to an “authorizer.”

Although Blue Earth Area officials support a charter school in Winnebago, the district may not be interested in becoming an “authorizer.”

Superintendent Dale Brandsoy says he hasn’t read the new law, but he believes the district would be more involved in overseeing the operation of the school.

“It would be a whole different game and setup. We would really have to analyze that, if that’s what we want to do,” he says.

According to Brandsoy, a different set of books would have to be maintained for the new school and additional staff would need to be hired.

Robertson asked if a council member or Bleess would be willing to serve on the committee, because he would like the city represented.

Councilman Chris Ziegler says he fully supports plans for the school moving forward, but he has concerns regarding the school’s infrastructure.

“I don’t want to see it go down to where it becomes cost-prohibitive for the school or the city,” he says.

All of the council expressed support for the school.

Robertson says committee members hope to start meeting again and he’s still recruiting volunteers to serve on various committees.

Brandsoy says district officials are interested in maintaining a school in Winnebago as long as enrollment numbers justify keeping it open.

“The board is willing to listen and work with them. They are very supportive of what the community wants,” he says.

In other business, the council:

• Hired Alyson Wrase for the administrative/accounting assistant position, pending her acceptance of the job;

• Approved mosquito-spraying before Moto Fest. The cost will not exceed $3,000.