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BEA School Board leases out W’bago school

By Staff | May 17, 2015

While the Winnebago Elementary School will be closed at the end of this year, and students will be attending school in Blue Earth this fall, the building in Winnebago will not be empty.

The Blue Earth Area School Board voted at last Monday night’s meeting to sign a lease with the Southern Plains Educational Cooperative (SPEC) giving them the use of the entire facility.

SPEC currently leases some of the upstairs parts of the building.

The vote on the lease did not come without quite a bit of discussion.

BEA superintendent Evan Gough said the lease covers most of the issues that could arise, including paying possible future assesments.

And while the co-op will not be paying any money in rent, they will be responsible for all costs involved in maintenance and upkeep.

Board member Dawn Fellows expressed several concerns. One had to do with who would pay for repairing the structure if it is damaged by storms or fire.

“Who would be responsible for it if the whole building is destroyed.” Fellows asked.

Gough said if there is some sort of disaster, he thought it would be determined by the insurance companies involved.

When a board member asked about having part of the lease state that the co-op needed to have a law enforcement officer on duty at the school, Gough said they cannot tie that into the lease.

“But I know they are interested in having a School Resource Officer on the property, if it can be worked out,” he added.

The board questioned whether all the items currently in the school were going to be removed.

“Our staff is going to remove everything that we think will be needed here in Blue Earth,” Gough said. ” Some things, like the white boards and some of the furniture, may stay in place with the co-op paying some amount for them.”

Another question had to do with continued use of the building.

“We are still going to be able to have our gymnastics program in the gymnasium,” Gough said. “And the co-op has agreed to let the community use the gym as well, for things like the Winnebago Area Musical Players productions. And I know there are some community classes in there as well.”

The lease is for three years, but it renews automatically if no notice is given by either party of their intention to end it.

One board member asked how they would be know if there was an intent to end the lease.

“We are a member of the co-op,” Gough said. “I attend their meetings, as does a board member. We will know what is going on with the arrangement well before any official notice is given.”

In other business at Monday’s meeting, the board regretfully voted to accept the resignation of one of the board members.

In her letter of resignation, Lori Frisk-Thompson said that a change in jobs means she would not be available to attend board meetings any longer.

Frisk-Thompson was just elected to the board this past fall and took office in January.

Superintendent Gough said he and School Board chairman Frankie Bly would determine a procedure for replacing Frisk-Thompson on the board and present the plan at the next board meeting.

He said that whoever is selected to fill the spot will only serve until the November 2016 election time, even though the position is for a four-year term.

“That person can decide then whether to run for the office or not,” he added.

The board also accepted resignations from Jodee Lund (high school social studies), Nathan Lund (high school math), Jennifer Mosher (paraprofessional) and Barbie Billet (bus driver).

They also approved the retirements for Becky Benson (ECFE aide) and Cindy Peterson (ECFE/Discovery/ABE aide).

The board also approved new teaching contracts for next school year for Patti Strukel (high school social studies) and Joseph Strukel (high school social studies.)