May 25, 2024

WCA seeks to build new elementary school in Hoffman

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The West Central Area School Board unanimously passed a resolution to issue general obligation bonds and calling for a special building levy referendum on November 2, 2021, with three questions on it: #1 build a new elementary school in Hoffman, and make renovations at WCA North in Elbow Lake, at an estimated cost not to exceed $37,030,000;  #2 expand classroom spaces, labs, and added equipment and furniture for the media center, add  a fitness center at the Secondary School and other updates to the building and grounds at a cost not to exceed $4,870,000; and, #3 construct and equip a track and field complex, softball and baseball  complex, and upgrade other outdoor grounds at the Secondary School, at a cost not to exceed $5,495,000.

The referendum will have these three questions on the ballot, voters can vote for one, two, or all three.

The board also approved a purchase agreement, for 12 acres in Hoffman, located just east of the Hoffman Senior Living facility, for $198,000 from Michael Fiebelkorn, Alexandria, and a purchase agreement for 20 acres, just west of the Secondary School, from Charles and Eileen Olson, for $221,216.

These purchase agreements would become null and void if the Nov. 2, building levy referendum fails.

Other business

The school board approved the hiring of Joan Honzay as a full time Kindergarten teacher at WCA North, and Toni Thorpe as Social Studies teacher beginning the 2021-22 school year. The board also approved the hiring of Quinn Olson as a paraprofessional at the Secondary School.

The board accepted the resignation of secondary school paraprofessionals Alicia Stein and David Stone.

Elementary Principal Natalie Prasch and Secondary Principal Susan Knutson both said the WCA Summer School  has been a huge success. They added that the custodial staff has done a wonderful job getting the buildings ready for the new school year.

Knutson added that the old locks on the secondary school hall lockers have been removed and will be replaced with padlocks. She said the old locks have been jammed up during the years and, in most instances did not work anymore.

Knutson said the school has agreed to mount a musical this fall, and produce it the week before Thanksgiving.

“If COVID-19 cooperates,” she added.

Superintendent Dale Hogie asked parents, listening to the school board meeting stream, to apply for free and reduced lunches this year. He said the USDA is once again offering free breakfasts and lunches, as long as families apply. He also reported he has met with Palmers Bus Service with the goal of figuring out a way to get kids home earlier. He said the state requires that students and drivers wear masks on the bus, or other school transportation, but social distancing will not be as severe as last year. This will mean more kids on each bus and less routes, resulting in getting home earlier.

The board passed the Safe Return to In-Person Learning Plan, as published in the Grant County Herald last week, or on the WCA website. Basically, school will return to pretty much normal to start the school year. Masks are not mandatory in school, but recommended, and masks can be worn with full support of staff. 

Vaccines are also recommended but not mandatory at this time. Social distancing in classrooms will be at three feet between desks. There will be no distance learning option for students who want to stay home. 

Hogie said he heard from a lot of parents who asked if their children could get second helpings of lunch if they were hungry. He said last year that was not possible because each meal was individually wrapped and it was impossible to add another sandwich, etc. This year, he said, we hope to go back to like lunch was before.

He added that any changes to the Safe Return to In-Person Learning plan will be communicated through the school’s messaging system.

“We can expect changes, but hopefully not,” Hogie said. “We did well last year and that’s why this was a low exposure area.”

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