School board to consider Q Comp, sports center

Both items on agenda for this Thursday, May 2


Mary Bailey
Community Editor

Two big changes are being considered by the Forest Lake Area School Board: Q Comp may be returning to District 831 schools, and the district may purchase the Forest Lake Area Athletic Association Sports Center.

Sports Center

School administration has recommended the district purchase FLAAA’s Lichtscheidl Arena and fieldhouse.

The district has been leasing facilities for athletic programs but would now lease to other groups.

The purchase price of $3.3 million is below the appraised market value of $5 million for the building and contents and less than the outstanding debt of $4.5 million.

The project would be funded using abatement bonds paid over 15 years. The debt service for the bonds would be added to the property tax levy. No referendum is required, but there would be a public hearing, tentatively set for May 30 at 6 p.m.

The city of Forest Lake owns the 6 acres of land. As a condition of the sale, the city would have to consent to the assignment of the current ground lease from FLAAA to the school district.

When the nonprofit Forest Lake Area Athletic Association approached the district in December 2011 with the idea, the school district appointed a task force and hired an independent feasibility study.

In April 2013, the FLAAA executive committee agreed in principle to the district’s last offer of $3.3 million. FLAAA was expected to approve the purchase agreement on May 1. At this price, the school district projects positive cash flow and positive contribution to the general fund.

The $5.5 million project was built in 2008 using industrial revenue bonds secured by private investors, so no public vote was required.

Information packets prepared for the school board can be viewed online at

Q Comp

Quality Compensation Program and Professional Development for Teachers was established in 2005 to reform teacher compensation and tie it to student performance.

School districts receive $260 for each student: $169 in state aid plus $91 in board-approved levy.

The district and teachers union design and collectively bargain a plan with five components: career ladder/advancement options, professional development, teacher evaluation, performance pay and an alternative salary schedule.

Forest Lake tried Q Comp in the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 school years but decided not to continue.

Now it may be back.

At the April 18 board meeting, representatives of the teachers union presented a new plan. If the board votes yes on May 2, the teachers will vote May 9 and the proposal will go to the Department of Education by May 15.

If the state approves the plan before June 4, it will be implemented next fall. If the state responds after school is out or recommends revisions, Q Comp will begin a year later.

Curriculum Coordinator Diane Giorgi, chair of the Q Comp committee formed by the Forest Lake Education Association, presented the plan to the school board on April 18.

“The first time around, there was no tried-and-true method,” she said. “There were some missed items in the budget, unknown pieces. The teachers voted it down.”

This time the committee looked at successful plans from neighboring districts and communicated with District 831 teachers about their goals and concerns.

The teachers evaluating staff will be fellow teachers, “peer coaches,” representing elementary, secondary and non-classroom staff. They may be full- or half-time staff, with terms limited to three years.

“We spent a lot of time getting feedback from the members. They want the peer coaching position to be fresh from the classroom,” Giorgi explained.

If Forest Lake signs on, the annual cost to the state will be $1,115,000, and to the district, $600,000.

  • F.L. Resident

    The school district cannot afford itself the way it is and this is why a referendum is up at every election! On top of that, parents are threatened with budget cuts by the school district if it is not passed! But they can afford to purchase the failed sports center that some rich businessmen just had to have?!? It really would be nice if the voters of this community would open their eyes at election time and vote these idiots out of office.

    • Dawn Schurrer

      Please educate yourself before making comments like you have. Rich businessmen DID NOT have to have the sports center. It is the YOUTH of the Forest Lake School district that did. Please open your eyes.

      • F.L. Resident

        You keep telling yourself that, Dawn. Do you think they had the youths intentions in mind over the investments they were going to profit from when they built it? Why do you think they are so eager to dump it now rather than take the loss like everyone else? Just like the rest of the blind voters, maybe you should be the one who should open your eyes and take a look at the whole picture!

      • Eric Langness

        Dawn – You are correct it was not ‘rich businessmen’ that had do have it but rather it was big government, tax me more types at the local level. Had ‘rich businessmen’ run this thing it wouldn’t be a total financial failure as many local businessmen said before it was built.

  • Eric Langness

    The board can do whatever it wants with Q-comp but they need approval from MDE and the teachers union. The union is the reason this program was eliminated! Why does the story not reflect the truth of why it dissolved?

    For the record, it’s one of the few property tax increases that I supported and voted for while a board member.

  • Cameron Piper

    I find it interesting that Clint twice made note that the bonds didn’t/won’t require referendums. It would appear that the people putting the funding together from these projects prefer to just take the money they “need” to do whatever they “want.”

    I always thought that a good working definition of theft was “taking (without permission) something that isn’t yours” – apparently that is also the definition of funding special government projects.

    • Cameron Piper

      Correction – Author was Mary Bailey.