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Menahga School tours show space needs throughout building

Menahga residents Russell and Oneita Quick took a tour of Menahga School Thursday night to see where a proposed expansion would be located. Oneita graduated from Menahga School in 1949. She said the school looks very different than the school she attended. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Citizens have been invited to tour Menahga School to show the need for additional space in light of a special election April 13 to vote on the project.

Thursday night, Menahga seniors Jenny Johnson and Rebecca Salmen lead a tour of the building. They have attended Menahga School since kindergarten.

Menahga residents Russell and Oneita Quick decided to tour the school. Oneita graduated from the school in 1949 and was the high school secretary later on.

"It's much different from when I went to school here," Oneita said.

The tour showed closets and conference rooms that have been turned into special education classrooms to accommodate growing enrollment.

"The fifth-grade classes are using rooms designed for special ed," Salmen said. "Next year, they will be even more crowded."

The larger grades are moving up, Johnson explained. Also, enrollment is projected to increase each year over the next five years.

Although they won't get to enjoy the school improvements if they are approved, Johnson and Salmen said they are needed.

"It's crowded," Johnson said.

The building project has been scaled down by about $3 million from the original proposal. An $8.5 million referendum was voted down in November by about 56 percent of voters.

After several meetings and feedback from the public, the proposed total project is $5.5 million.

Salmen and Johnson showed the current weight room, wrestling room and locker rooms located in the basement. The basement locker rooms are American Disabilities Act (ADA) deficient and would cost $1.3 million to bring to code.

"Once we had to put black paper over the door of some classrooms and use them to change in," Salmen said.

If there are a few sporting events going on at the school it gets crowded, she said.

The gym needs to be shared by different age groups for class during the day, Johnson said.

The high school science rooms are located in the elementary area of the school. They also need remodeling because the lab stations are crumbling under the weight of the countertops.

The special election ballot will include two questions.

The first question on the April 13 ballot will ask voters to authorize the school district to issue general obligation school building bonds for $4.95 million. This includes construction and equipping five elementary classrooms, a gymnasium, women's and men's locker rooms, a concession and foyer area, bathrooms, a training room and referee facility, kitchen and gym storage and the remodeling of the agricultural shop to include a weight room.

The second question on the ballot will ask voters to authorize the school district to issue an additional $560,000 in bonds, which includes the construction and equipping of two high school classrooms, one high school science lab and the remodeling of existing high school science classrooms to create three elementary classrooms.

If voters approve the referendum construction would tentatively begin in July 2010 and be completed in August 2011.

The annual tax increase for question one ($4.95 million) is $81 per year for a $100,000 home. If question two is added for the entire $5.5 million project, the increase is $93 per year for a $100,000 home.

Absentee ballot applications are available at the Menahga School district office. Call 564-4141 ext. 330 or stop between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and Monday, April 12 until 5 p.m.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561