RUSSELL - Members of the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton School Board heard a proposal to renovate two of the district's school buildings at the board's regular meeting Monday night.
A building committee has looked at a plan for the future of the RTR district's buildings since November, said committee member Jeff Cordes during a presentation to the board. Cordes said the options the committee reviewed focused mainly on RTR High School in Tyler and RTR Elementary in Ruthton, as the middle school in Russell has already undergone extensive repairs for storm damage from last summer.
The committee's building plan includes renovating the oldest wings of the Ruthton and Tyler school buildings.
"We didn't think it was appropriate to close buildings," Cordes said. As well as addressing building deficiencies, he said, the plan "shows investment and commitment to all three communities."
In Tyler, the two oldest sections of the high school would be demolished, including the current cafeteria and kitchen area and an unused and condemned building. Renovations would also extend to the high school's locker rooms and HVAC systems, Cordes said.
In Ruthton, the oldest part of the elementary school building would be demolished, and a new media center, computer lab and electrical/mechanical room would be built, he said. An elevator would also be built to make the school building compliant with accessibility requirements.
Cordes said the plan would cost an estimated $11.4 million. In comparison, he said, completely replacing all three RTR school buildings could cost almost $19 million, not including demolition costs. Cordes said the committee was considering the possibility of bonding or a referendum to fund the building plan. The two funding options have different impacts on rural property owners, he said.
Only a week after she appeared before members of the Lynd School Board to ask about her employment status, RTR counselor Teresa Hunt spoke to the RTR board during the public comment period at Monday's meeting.
Hunt read from a prepared statement regarding the issues with her contract, as well as criticism of the RTR district's administration.
Hunt is a counselor who works with RTR students, but is contracted in the Lynd School District. Her contract was recommended for non-renewal at last week's Lynd School Board meeting, but the action was tabled until board members could meet with an attorney later this week.
Hunt told board members she didn't understand why she was contracted in Lynd. She said she knew integration funding may be used to pay a staff member shared between school districts, but she provided no services to Lynd students. She also said her job performance had not been evaluated by Lynd or RTR administrators, and she had been inadequately informed of what she needed to do to improve. While she did eventually receive a plan for improvement, Hunt said, she only spoke with a third-party consultant instead of school officials.
She said in the past she had requested more than once to be on the RTR board's agenda but was not approved.
Hunt's statement also included questions and criticism about administrative and disciplinary practices under RTR/Hendricks/Lynd Superintendent Bruce Houck.
Hunt said she had contacted the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, the Office of Civil Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union about her situation.
Hunt said she was speaking out because "Now I have nothing left to lose."
School board members and RTR administrators did not respond to or comment on Hunt's statements at the meeting.