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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • Educators discuss future of elementary school building

  • Reede Gray Elementary School was built in the early 1960s, and still reflects those times in many ways; the school board met with architects to work out ways to upgrade it for the 21st century.
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  • The Reede Gray Elementary School, which was originally erected in the late 1950s has seen several changes in the five decades since it first started educating kids. While those updates have served to improve the facility, those who frequent the school building have recognized it, in many ways, still reflects how education was done years ago. In other words, the building presents that institutional kind of setting most would agree does not fit with 21st Century education. Following a workshop when members of the Redwood Area Board of Education directed Redwood Area School District administration to seek out some solutions, the board spent time earlier this week looking at some broad-brush ideas which were presented by John McNamara of Wold Architects. 
    McNamara stressed the fact that what he presented were ideas to consider, adding nothing has been decided regarding any of the project. Much of what was presented focused on two main ideas – bringing the school building into the 21st Century and creating an im-proved first impression of the facility. A more current facility could mean developing spaces that are more flexible, rather than what one thinks of as the traditional classroom. That might mean creating rooms with varied uses for individual, small group and large group learning. McNamara also presented ideas that would lead to a new entry area that would offer more of a welcoming feeling for visitors. One of the major issues the district needs to address is the school lunch program. According to Rick Ellingworth, Redwood Area School District superintendent, the school has been informed by the department of health its current program of utilizing the north gym can’t continue. Ellingworth surmised the school has until the start of the 2015-16 school year to make that change. The plan would be to put the cafeteria back where it had been, and McNamara said the way the area was constructed – to house the school’s childcare program – can easily be changed back as the walls were constructed with that in mind. The board was in-formed then that would mean putting the Card-inal Kids Club program in a different location. Several scenarios were discussed, including making changes to the Ehlers Intergenera-tional Family Center that would allow for the space where the senior center is now to be used for education. That, of course, would mean finding a site for that program. Ellingworth said the playground is also in need of upgrades to offer what meets the needs of today’s students and families. McNamara said the ideas run the gamut from basic cosmetic changes to those that would require much more investment. That board is taking the ideas under consideration and are going to be discussing them further in the future. After hosting the workshop, the board opened its regular meeting. During that meeting the board: • Approved moving forward with the plan to install a new roof and air handling units on the Redwood Valley school building. The estimate cost for that work is $3.75 million. The board is going to finalize the project at its September meeting with the plan to bring the request for a levy to the public in January. • Accepted the resignations of Justin Timm from his role as RVHS knowledge bowl coach, Jamie Steffl from her role as RVMS knowledge bowl coach and Janet Bailey from her role as district office receptionist. • Approved the employment of Emily Monson as a .22 FTE Title I teacher at a salary of $7,766. • Approved the substitute teacher compensation rate for the 2014-15 school year at $115 per day.

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