Rushford pleads for school construction dollars - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Rushford pleads for school construction dollars

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RUSHFORD, MN (FOX 47) -- August 2007 is when many southeast Minnesota towns were devastated by a flood, including Rushford. Even it's already aging high school took quite the beating. When the town dried up, so did the district's pocketbook. Now, the superintendent is heading to Washing D.C. to plead for education dollars.

"The water line was right here."

It's a reminder of the 2007 flood that left the city of Rushford under water and caused many problems for its high school. But despite terrible flooding, the walls of the 83-year-old school are crumbling.

"We have moisture that's coming from the outside in, and so we're constantly dealing with repairs to our walls," shows Rushford's superintendent Chuck Ehler.

Classroom ceilings, too. You can see the permanent water damage from a leaky roof. And as for the cramped hallways of the old school, Ehler describes them short of prison-like. Compared to many schools, to have 20 students in one classroom is not bad, but when you have 20 or more students in a classroom of this size, it's a bit overcrowded and challenging for the teacher.

Rushford is still picking up the pieces from the flood, and Ehler says asking for tax dollars to build a new school is out of the question.

"For that type of financial impact upon our families, that's going to be exorbitant. So, we know that any avenues that we have or any hopes we have for a new school are going to rely on outside dollars to come forth to assist us with this project."

Congressman Tim Walz agrees. That's why he is bringing Ehler to Washington D.C. to speak to the Department of Education and listen to President Obama's speech.

"Just by making people aware that if there's going to be stimulus dollars that are coming forth for new construction of schools that we would like to be given consideration," says Ehler. "My questions to them is why not southeastern Minnesota."

Rushford students are also asking that question. Two of them made a YouTube video, showcasing the school's problems. The students say the whole community would benefit from a new school.

Ehler will leave for Washington Tuesday morning. He says he hopes to generate federal dollars now, and then combine it with possible state money from the 2010 bonding year.

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