Referendum supporters grateful
voters approved project

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 12/22/99.

After hearing the news of the referendum vote, 667 to 493 in favor of the building project, task force members started spreading the news.

Bob Gardner, task force chairman, has been promoting the idea of an auditorium for the school district since 1988. "I'm glad to see the auditorium will become a reality," he said.

"I was anxious all day Tuesday wondering if the voters would approve the project. I kept reminding people to vote," he added.

"I looked at the children on the playground Tuesday afternoon and hoped the auditorium would be there for them," Gardner said. "I thank the people who voted for the project."

Superintendent Howard Caldwell was pleased with the referendum results. "I'm happy the district patrons approved the project. I feel it will be an outstanding addition to the school program and to the community," Caldwell said. "I'll be anxious for the project to get under way," he added.

School board chairman Pat Flanders said, "We have a lot of work ahead of us to get the job done. As we get into the process, the board will be keeping an eye on the project to keep a control on the numbers to ensure a quality job."

He added that he understands why some people didn't vote for the project, but hopes they will see the benefits of the auditorium and fitness center once they are in use.

Dick Realdsen, middle school physical education instructor and coach, said he can see why some people were opposed to the project because it meant paying more taxes. "Almost half the project is being paid by the state with our tax money. Why shouldn't we use the money instead of another community using our money?" he said. "We should build something we need with the money, the auditorium and fitness center."

Through state equalization aid, the first $405,000 in debt service must be paid, in full, by local tax dollars. The state pays 46 percent of the remaining debt service each year.

Brad Skoglund, high school physical education instructor, said the new fitness center and auditorium will definitely be a plus for the community. Skoglund added, "We need to move forward to keep up with education demands and this is definitely a step forward. In order for the athletic teams to compete, we need to get stronger. At the state Legion baseball tournament, our player's arms looked like toothpicks compared to the other teams. The fitness center with the added weights will be a big help. It will also help the physical education classes meet the graduation standards."

Realdsen agreed with Skoglund about the need for the fitness center. "Paynesville has been trying to play catchup with the other schools our size in the area for many years. The fitness center will be something people of all ages can use. It will benefit the students and adults in the community. We hope to keep the fitness center as available to the public as possible by having it open early morning hours and late into the evening," Realdsen said.

Bryan Mara, high school band instructor, was happy with the passing of the referendum. "Now we have more class options. I didn't like taking away classroom space from the physical education department to practice for concerts," he said. "On Monday (Dec. 13), we had to kick the basketball team out of the gym before school so we could set up for that evening's band concert."

The physical education classes usually lose more than 10 hours of classroom time each year while the gymnasium is beingused for performances.

In January, the choir's soup and sandwich performance will be a long day for choir students. The students will be setting up the auditorium for the production, hold their first practice in the gym, hold their annual performance, then take down everything before going home.

Cheryl Bungum, choir director, said she was walking on air after hearing the bond was approved. "I was extremely excited," she said. "There have been people working a long time toward this objective. I thank everybody who gave their suport to make the auditorium and fitness center a reality."

"The community won't know the true benefit of the new facility until it becomes a reality," Bungum said. "There is a light at the end of the tunnel which will make presenting this year's concerts a little easier." The new auditorium and fitness center are expected to be completed by May of 2001.

"The auditorium will be great for the community, hosting different events. I would have felt bad for the fine arts people if the proposal had not passed. They do a great job and put in a lot of hours," Skoglund said. "With the passing of the referendum, both the school and community win."

Mara added there was more pep in the step of everybody at school the day after the referendum vote. "It was a big relief to have the community approve the proposal," he added. "The new auditorium and fitness center will be something to look forward to."

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