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BEA wants Winnebago to wait until Nov.

By Staff | Jun 30, 2019

Members of the Blue Earth Area School Board got very animated in their conversations last week as they discussed the Winnebago school and its agreement with SPEC.

“We want to be good neighbors and help out, but we entered into an agreement” interim superintendent Dr. Jerry Jensen said. “I wasn’t too happy when I read in the paper a quote saying they were frustrated, ‘we can’t get in there, we can’t do anything.’ Wait a minute, the agreement was Nov. 1, both parties signed that agreement, why would you feel frustrated you can’t get in there to start working?”

Jensen’s comments came during a special Blue Earth Area School Board meeting on Tuesday, June 25. The topic of the Winnebago City Council and the Center for Educational Development of Winnebago (CED) wanting to get into the former Winnebago School building this summer to start performing some repair work was the topic of discussion.

The School Board had two main issues with the requests of the Winnebago groups to begin work before the building officially changes hands. The first issue was a liability issue. The second issue was the current tenant, Southern Plains Education Cooperative (SPEC), has use of the building until at least Oct. 31 and could extend the lease past that date if their new construction falls behind schedule.

“I have heard from SPEC and they have given us a letter that they want to continue their lease until the end of October, so technically they have full use of the building up to that point,” Jensen explained. “They are also holding summer school so in their mind they did not want to let anyone in until summer school is over. They don’t want anything to do with any liability when they have their kids around that building. This comes from their principal and I think we are obligated to honor that, they are leasing the facility.”

The other issue discussed was liability.

“I have talked to Winnebago’s mayor and they are checking into getting some kind of liability insurance,” Jensen commented. “I just know that we own the facility, and any major catastrophe that could happen, I would be surprised if we were somehow not dragged into the liability end of that.”

Board member Kyle Zierke offered his thoughts on the matter.

“To me, I think it is a hard no,” Zierke stated. “If I was selling a house, I wouldn’t let the buyer come in and remodel the basement while I was still living there. You would have liability issues.”

The discussion then led to the gymnastics program which has utilized the gymnasium in Winnebago in the past.

“I am getting the sense they have other ideas about that gym being used.” Jensen said. “I think it might be best if we relocate here and come up with our own long-term solution.”

Finally, a motion was unanimously passed to deny early entry to the city of Winnebago for renovations until the transfer of the building is complete.

The board also took care of some personnel matters during the meeting.

The resignation of Patti Strukel, a high school social studies teacher, was accepted.

Contracts were approved for three teachers to fill open positions on the staff. Christy Duncan, a middle school math teacher, Brittany Stindtman, a kindergarten teacher, and JoAnna Helgeson, a first grade teacher, all had their contracts approved.

The board also approved the hiring of Gwen Armon as the high school secretary.