Price to pay worth it for quality school system

To the editor:

In visiting with some people in the community of Marshall, there still seems to be a lack of knowledge as to the need for the upcoming school referendum to be passed.

So we decided to see for ourselves the condition of West Side School in Marshall and see if was as crowded as we had heard.

Thanks to Jeremy Williams and Bob Jacobson, we took a fairly extensive tour of the building on March 23. Here is what we noticed and were told:

1. The building seemed quiet and very task centered. We noticed many kudos for positive behaviors on the walls.

2. We saw nothing but smiles and felt a welcoming spirit. The staff has done an awesome job of making the best of a very difficult situation.

3. Near the main entrance and main office are a number of very small offices used for learning areas such as remedial reading and a “faculty bathroom” almost as small as can be found on an airplane or tour bus.

4. The building is kept very clean, but is in bad shape and is very crowded. Every possible space seems to be used for a classroom or small group learning area.

We saw many tables and students in halls or students on hall floors as there was not enough space for small groups in the regular classrooms. This has to be disruptive with classes passing by.

Many classrooms share space for two classes. We thought this would be difficult for students who find it hard to concentrate.

5. Locker space is limited so the lockers are overflowing with coats, etc. and boots, shoes, etc. are on the floor in front of the lockers in the halls.

6. Too few lavatories — only three small ones in the building. One of the girls’ lavatories is closed at times for special education students, both male and female, thus tying up one of the three small student lavatories for a time.

Little boys may find this embarrassing, having to use the girls’ lavatory.

7. The library has been moved into a classroom. It is very small and has room for only two tables. There is a rug on the floor for story time, but it is hard to fit 20-plus students on the rug.

8. Many water leaks in the ceiling were noticed all around the building, especially in the cafeteria. When water pipes burst, walls and ceilings have to be broken into to replace the old pipes and repair the damage.

9. Due to a lack of seating space in the lunchroom, some students have to wait until almost 1:30 p.m. to be served lunch.

The small kitchen has appliances not much larger than what we have in our homes. The lunchroom is also used by an aide to work with students before and after lunch.

10. Thanks to custodian Tom Blomme’s mini tour, we saw the original 1954 boilers which still function, but keep the third floor at close to 90 degrees and the first floor at a reasonable 68 degrees.

11. Many education students from Southwest Minnesota State University were experiencing some classroom experience early in their possible college majors. This is a great idea for these young people to see if education is the profession they want early in their college experience.

12. There is no room to expand the building as the lot is even too small for the present building.

The building is in such poor condition that there is nowhere to start to upgrade or fix all of the building’s problems.

This referendum is not about the staff wanting a new building. This is about an old, old building that has served well for all of these years, but is no longer adequate.

There is another opportunity to tour the schools on March 27. We wish all voters would take the time to tour the schools, especially West Side School.

Our children deserve a better building than the present one. They are our future.

As the recent series in the Independent has shown, our town continues to have good jobs and amenities to attract newcomers or former graduates to return to Marshall. Much of the credit for all of this goes to good educational systems, both public and private.

One of our former Marshall students recently retired from the U.S. Navy and decided to move his family back to Minnesota. His family’s No. 1 criteria in looking for a place to settle their family was a quality school system.

We can only speak for ourselves, and we don’t have the tax bill that some do, but we think the price for us to pay is well worth all the good to come out of this bond levy.

Tom and Marlene Nordby