WORTHINGTON — Uncertainty over the future of the Worthington Ice Arena and state legislation that could affect school funding led the District 518 Board of Education to pump the brakes on building or upgrading ball fields.
One particular proposed change in legislation would allow school boards to renew an existing referendum themselves rather than returning to taxpayers to request continued funding.
“I feel we should hold off on all new projects and see what happens with the referendum,” said Tom Prins, school board member.
The legislative session ends May 22, said Superintendent John Landgaard, meaning that if the school board hopes to put a referendum on the ballot in the fall, they should work on it “right after the legislative session after we know how things land.”
At that point, the school board will have a work session on the issue.
Landgaard has also expressed concern over some state legislation that could be costly to schools.
Several options for building new ball fields were on the table, including a new baseball field at the Crailsheim site for $2.26 million, two new soccer fields there for $2.13 million, and upgrading the Worthington Middle School grass practice field to artificial turf for $3.42 million.
The city of Worthington, the Worthington Hockey Association and Nobles County Fair Board are involved in discussions about the aging Worthington Ice Arena, and if a new facility is built, it is likely that District 518 would pay for a portion of it. It’s also possible that a new facility could be built on District 518 land.
Another variable in the discussion is the presence of a donor working with the school, hoping to contribute money to a ball field, with a preference toward a soccer field.
In other news Tuesday, the school board:
- Accepted donations from David Soderholm and the Rock-Nobles Cattlemen’s Association for the Worthington FFA Chapter, from the Sports Booster Club for scholarships, from Medtronic for the Brandl Track Scholarship Fund and from Boxtops for Education for Prairie Elementary.
- Approved two student expulsions.
- Approved a maintenance and scheduling agreement with the city of Worthington on the baseball fields for $10,600.
- Approved the first reading of a new policy on overdose medication, which outlines the requirements of the law regarding the use of naloxone, a drug used to treat opioid overdoses. Naloxone will be in a secured location and access will be limited, Landgaard said.
- Approved increasing pay for long-term substitutes who are previous employees of District 518 to $295. Previously, $275 was discussed, but Landgaard found that long-term subs who aren’t past employees receive $255, and maintaining a $40 gap between the two groups would mean a bump to $295 for previous employees serving as long-term substitutes.
- Approved a student teaching agreement with Grand Canyon University.
- Discussed bullying, in relation to a parental concern brought to school board member Adam Blume. While no action was taken, the consensus seemed to be to examine the school’s anti-bullying policies to see if they could be made robust.