Trust the process regarding ISD 831 Facilities Task Force

Group’s recommendations on district needs forthcoming


Madsen, LindaLinda Madsen
Guest Columnist

In a recent column I made mention of our school district’s Facilities Task Force, which has undertaken the difficult but important process of evaluating all of the buildings in our district to determine the needs that our district faces and to prioritize them.

I wanted to take this opportunity to explain in greater detail the work of this task force and the process we are undertaking to ensure that we are not short-changing our students.

Back during the 2008-2009 school year, our district formed the Facilities Task Force by requesting participation from our staff, school board members, and most importantly members of our community who can look at the status of our facilities with an objective eye. These people give us insight as to what people in the greater Forest Lake area want and what kinds of facilities they believe the students of our communities deserve.

Basically, we have asked the members of this task force to look at all of our buildings in detail to see what is current there, to then look at those buildings in the context of what they should be like, and to figure out how to get from point A to point B. Over the course of three long Saturdays, these task force members have visited all of our school buildings as well as our transportation building and district office.

Additionally, the task force has been meeting on Monday evenings in order to compare notes on what they have seen and to make their evaluations.

Over the course of the past several months, the committee has been working to update the gap analysis report that was created in 2009. Obviously in the three years that have passed since that report was written, new issues have arisen and costs have changed. New items have been added to the updated report and our staff have consulted with construction professionals to update potential costs of repairs or replacements.

With a newly updated gap analysis report in hand, and with anticipated costs listed after each item, the task force met last Monday to evaluate the updated report. At the meeting, each task force member worked independently to prioritize these items. The task force will continue to meet to discuss the needs of our district and form a recommendation to be presented to the school board.

I want to be clear that there is no pre-determined outcome that is planned for this task force. This task force is made up of members from many different professions, backgrounds and perspectives. I do not anticipate that, in the end, every task force member will necessarily support every recommendation that the group puts forward. But I do believe that a recommendation will be reached and that the group will collectively make sound and wise decisions regarding these important issues.

We do not know at this point what the final recommendation for repairs, replacements or upgrades to our buildings will be; we do not know what items will be on their final recommendation list or what the final price tag might be on those items.

What I do know is that these dedicated volunteers have committed many hours of their time to evaluating our facilities, and they are responsible people who are equipped with the information necessary to make sound and educated decisions.

I am anxious to see what the final recommendations will be, and I want to publicly thank all of the members of the task force who have dedicated so much time and effort in this work. I know that our school board members – some of whom have been directly involved in the work of the task force – will take the task force’s recommendations very seriously as they consider possible options in moving forward.

I also hope that you, the readers of this newspaper, will respect the hard work of this task force and give fair consideration to the final work of this group, and of the school board, if and when you are asked to consider supporting upgrades to our facilities.