At the December Hinckley-Finlayson (H-F) school board meeting, the Facility Design Committee for the bond projects passed in November’s election was discussed. Superintendent Rob Prater said he was trying to maximize the number of people involved but also keep it at a manageable number.
He explained they have taken the jobs that Joe France can manage in house and will start on those right away.
Prater recommended to the board that the member who takes over as the facilities representative, previously held by Bill Randall, be on the design committee.
Brandon Kellerman, project director from Foster, Jacobs and Johnson (FJJ), would like to see a leadership team formed. This would preferably consist of Hinckley Elementary Principal Jeff Wilson, H-F High School Principal Brian Masterson, the board facilities representative, Prater, France, Kellerman and Damian Williams, the project manager with FJJ. This team would meet more often and bring choices to the committee.
There were a number of community and staff members who volunteered to be on the facility committee. Applications will be sent out to those interested before Christmas break and will be due back before the January school board meeting. It will be decided then which community members and/or staff will be on the committee. The first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 17.
Truth in Taxation
The Truth in Taxation hearing was held at the December meeting.
Prater asked the board to choose from three options. The first was the maximum levy at $2,238,076.90, option two was 1.4 percent under the maximum at $2,209,201.90 and option three was 2.3 percent under at $2,195,201.90.
Option two was recommended by Prater. According to his report, this option would leave the district with the ability to bond for most or possibly all of the improvement projects with less tax impact than predicted. Prater said that, with this option, the average Hinckley-Finlayson resident would pay 27 percent less in property taxes for the school district in comparison to bordering school districts. On a $125,000 home, the taxes for the school district would be $425 in comparison to the area average of $554. Prater used Pine City, Mora and East Central as a comparison.
The board approved option two.
Pine County Education Center proposed
Building an education center in Hinckley that would be shared with East Central and Pine City was also discussed. The building would house three current programs: the Transition Program at Hinckley-Finlayson High School and soon to outgrow its space, Vision in downtown Pine City and New Direction on Oriole St. in Sandstone, the lease of which is up and needs a new location.
Prater told the board that both of the other districts are willing to locate the building centrally in Hinckley. He suggested they could use the 46-acre property the district owns west of Hinckley as it allows room to grow the facility in the future to provide more career and technical education. By using this land, they could build the building to the specifications and space that is needed.
It would include an agreement with all three districts. Prater told the board there would be some upfront costs but would save the district money in the long run.
Board member Kayla Roberts said she would like to see financials on paper before they take any further steps. Prater said he would work on that and bring it to a future meeting.