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Letter to the Editor: I'm not convinced North Winn School should be abandoned

Posted: Tue, Jan 8, 2019 2:26 PM

(The following Letter to the Editor has been submitted by Julie Askelson of Decorah):

"As a stakeholder of both the Decorah and North Winneshiek School Districts, I am not convinced about the decision to not use the North Winneshiek School as part of the combined districts.  In fact, I feel strongly about using the North Winn School until such a time when the John Cline situation is firmly in place.

At this time school and city negotiations are ongoing regarding the purchase of city property and construction of a needed elementary school. With the purchase of property, site preparation, construction of a new school, razing of John Cline and landscaping, my guess (in talking with other citizens in the construction field) would be a bond asking of $25 million dollars. At this time, the climate in Decorah is less than favorable in passing a school bond. Decorah City Council is raising valuations, again; recently declined a major retailer that would have had a positive impact on tax revenues for city and county; offered a 10 year abatement for apartment living housing (yes, the tax benefit will eventually be there but for now…); questions where money will come from to support Locust Road improvements, to name a few items of interest to school district stakeholders.

Until a firm plan between Decorah/North Winn Schools is in place for the replacement of John Cline Elementary School, the North Winn School should be used as an attendance center for the combined school district.

The North Winneshiek School offers many attributes in providing a safe, effective learning environment.  As recently as October/November, 2018, I served as a long-term substitute teacher in the North Winn building.  During my 6-week stay, I took the time to tour the building several times, observing and taking note of what the North Winneshiek School has to offer a Decorah/North Winneshiek School District (see attachment).  My observations are through the eyes of a retired teacher and school administrator and have been carefully considered.

I urge the Decorah/North Winn School Board to seriously reconsider the use of North Winneshiek School as part of the reorganized district in providing a safe, effective, learning environment that would be fiscally responsible for stakeholders."