By Correne Martin
Just as the River Ridge School District may face an operational referendum in February of 2014, taxpayers could also be asked to consider a facilities referendum in August of 2014.
The educational facilities in the River Ridge School District are over 50 years old and aging fast. The infrastructure and finishes are worn out, the HVAC systems and air quality are poor, there are asbestos and mold issues in some areas, many windows are not energy efficient ... and the list goes on.
The Building and Grounds Committee realized its many problems in the fall of 2012 when the boilers in the Bloomington school building needed repair, “to the tune of $50,000,” according to Bob Mathre, school board member.
“So we took a tour of both facilities and quickly discovered discrepancies in both (the Bloomington and Patch Grove) buildings,” Mathre stated. “As a committee, our goals are to update the buildings, save money where we can and provide the best learning environment possible.”
To reach those goals, Architectural Design Group (ADG) of Eau Claire was hired in early 2013 and tasked with inspecting the buildings and providing recommendations. Also, as an extension of the school board, a dozen taxpayers formed a Community Communication Group (CCG) in March to increase communication with the public.
On Oct. 9 in Bloomington and on Oct. 14 in Patch Grove, a pair of three-hour public workshop meetings were held to explain the history and background of how the district got to this point, and to present the operational referendum and facilities scenarios to the community. The school board and CCG also wanted to gather input and direction for the future. Over 50 people attended each meeting.