Population boom has Grand Meadow school system seeking help - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Population boom has Grand Meadow school system seeking help

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GRAND MEADOW, Minn. (KTTC) -- Freedom isn't free.  It is a slogan on the side of an overcrowded classroom in Grand Meadow.  It is an education system looking to buy some freedom.

"We're using every available space we have right now because we are at max capacity in this building, so whatever space is out there we use it. Even our board room is used as a classroom during the day," said Grand Meadow Superintendent Jerry Reshetar. 

The school system is pushing for a $13.7 million bond referendum that will end student frustrations like this one.

"Gym space is so cramped. Sometimes we have to split the gym with the boys and it echoes and you can never hear anything and the coach is screaming and the players we never know what's going on," said student Rachel Oehlke. 

It will also aid their concerns for the growing elementary population.

"For a lower kid it's really, really packed with like 40 per class I think, while us it's like 20," said student Dylan Jech. 

They are numbers that create a clear-cut disadvantage for some students' younger siblings.

"They're getting knowledge, but it's not hands on as like what ours are," said student Jamie Stevens who has three other siblings in the school system.

The bond will add a new physical education center, a music and fine arts center, and 11 new classrooms to help create an important shuffle for the future.

"By adding on a two story high school that also includes the fine arts and drama, I can now shift my high school classes into the new facility. Now I can move some of my upper elementary, specifically 5th, 6th grade into the current dome so now I've got a true middle school. I can move 3rd and 4th grade into the rooms that they exit and I've got 3 to 4 rooms open in the elementary," said Grand Meadow Principal Paul Besel. 

With the original school structure set to be paid off in 2030, the bond faces a tough challenge by asking to extend that goal by 10 more years.

"We are asking a large amount of money, but it is really a need and not a want, so I think it's a hurdle we can overcome," said teacher Brooke Sloan. 

A hurdle that Besel hopes will get the community to raise its hand and vote.

"The folks that I've talked with understand the need. They understand that we're growing, but like anything I believe they also understand that their finance drives this," said Besel.

It is a vote that will effect the future of the school, and what they make it.

A vote on the bond referendum takes place on March 11.

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