To the Editor:
The Lynd community has some big decisions to make regarding the future of their school as did the Lake Benton community three years ago. Building code violations, fire marshal issues, and structural deficiencies in aging buildings are the crux of the issue.
Three options were presented to the public at the Lynd community meeting: Becoming code compliant for $4.9 million; becoming code compliant, remodeling, and adding class rooms for $8.5 million; and building a new school for $11 million. Be aware that the first option is a band-aid approach. The result will still be an old, obsolete building with a relatively short life span (but code compliant). In Lake Benton we found hidden structural deficiencies during the demolition process that could have both hindered a remodeling project and been huge safety issues. For example, all the supports around the old windows were rotted out and the smokestack crashed through several levels of the building after a light nudge with excavating equipment - a potential disaster in a wind storm.
The people are what make your school -not the building. But new technology in a modern comfortable environment will only add to the attraction. Area trends point to many families looking for smaller school systems. Examples include Sioux Falls and Brandon, S.D., students to Hills Beaver Creek, Sioux Falls students to Harrisburg, S.D. (Harrisburg is even constructing schools in the Sioux Falls proper), and Marshall students to Lakeview. For many, a smaller system is just a better fit.
Geo-thermal heating/cooling could provide huge efficiencies to the district. In Lake Benton we borrowed the funds needed in excess of the cost of a conventional HVAC system and are paying for it (with money left over) out of the energy savings in less than five years. After the five year period, of which we now have three years remaining, we will have an additional $70 to $80 thousand dollars per year staying in the general education fund rather than being spent for non-renewable energy.
The public wants to be sure they are getting the most "bang for the buck." Our experience with the architectural firm of SGN was that they design quality but cost efficient structures rather than ornamental monuments. Another bonus: Interest rates are currently at historical lows.
Of course taxes are a concern, and the latest district to take on a major construction project usually has the highest tax structure. Lakeview, Marshall, Pipestone, and Lake Benton all held that distinction at one time. Ivanhoe now temporarily holds the area honor. Keep in mind that your school might go away, but paying school taxes will not - they will just be sent to another community - as will your children. Decisions regarding your school are tough decisions and I hope the Lynd District residents can agree to move forward with a good sound plan.