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School Board renews Commons leases, discusses future of site

After a long discussion Monday evening, New Richmond School Board members agreed that they, in principle, support the city library moving to the Community Commons and getting a quote from service providers to evaluate the Commons site.

Board members also agreed that the Community Commons is a good home for the district’s Community Education program.

“It is my understanding that it is going to be a fundraising campaign to raise the money for the new library, but they are looking for a location and a concept in order to support that campaign so that they’re not just out there knocking on doors, saying they have a great idea for a library but then having people say they want to see it,” Superintendent Jeff Moberg said. “They want to be able to say where it will be, what it will look like and what it is going to cost and then ask if the people will support it.”

Moberg brought the discussion to the board after a Nov. 7 meeting involving the school board, the city, the library and other parties interested in the Community Commons project. Moberg came to the board seeking the group’s idea and thoughts on the best course of action for the Community Commons site in order to give the advisory group some idea of what possibilities would actually be possible.

“The first meeting [with the advisory group] was very positive I thought and was a good opening meeting for the group,” Moberg said. “There were a lot of people there, with representatives from all the different groups involved. We started it with a brainstorming session, and we came up with all the different possibilities for the site.”

Moberg said he would return to the advisory group at its next meeting, which has yet to be scheduled, and let them know the school board’s feelings on the different subjects.

The board also approved leases for five entities to rent space in the Community Commons from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015. Those groups are the VFW, the New Richmond Senior Center, the New Richmond Area Community Foundation, Cooperative Education Service Agency #11 and the Five Loaves Food and Clothing Center. One of the current tenants of the Commons, WITC, did not wish to renew its lease.

One of the changes to the lease agreements, aside the changing of dates, was the definition of “major repair” under the repairs and alterations section of the agreement, in which case the board could cancel a lease for its remaining term. After some discussion, the board agreed that the stop-loss limit for the repairs the school district would be responsible for was $25,000, instead of the original $100,000 proposed by Moberg.

“In the old language, there was something to the effect of ‘if the repair is a major repair, part of the cost could be prorated out in terms of a rent change to the partners,’ but it really didn’t define what major was,” Moberg said. “I wasn’t sure if major was $10,000 or $250,000. So, I thought in terms of some kind of stop-loss for a catastrophic failure, we shouldn’t be required to just repair it because what if the long term plan shacks out so that the building isn’t even going to be there?”

The board approved the leases with the changed amount of $25,000 under the repairs and alterations section for all five groups with space in the Community Commons.

Another major discussion during the meeting regarded the wording of the revised anti-harassment policies for employees. The board talked about boundary invasions and what parts of the policies it liked and which parts it felt it could do without. Moberg took down the board’s concerns and discussion topics to bring to the schools’ lawyers for further clarification and a second look at the policy.

Other business:

-- The board approved the hiring of three extracurricular positions, the resignations of two employees, the monthly bills, the minutes from the Oct. 28 meeting and a pair of grants and gifts donated to the school as part of the consent agenda.

-- The board approved a motion to add the Read 180 program at the cost of $70,645.

-- The board discussed and looked over the 2014-15, 2015-16 school calendars as presented by Moberg to be approved at a later meeting.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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