LYND - Less than 20 people turned out Monday night for the first of three special Lynd School meetings, but those in attendance had plenty of questions in regards to the $11.5 million building bond referendum.
The meetings were designed to provide information about the proposed construction of a new school building, but at times, became more of a debate session. Battle lines were drawn, as community members appeared to be passionately for or against the referendum. Lynd Superintendent Bruce Houck, who was the first to speak, tried to clarify the situation.
"Everyone has the right to have an opinion," Houck said. "But we're here to discuss the motion that has been made, not to debate. This is the one before you."
Jim Wilson, associate for the architectural firm of Smiley Glotter Nyberg (SGN), was interrupted numerous times during his presentation.
"The way the economy is right now, I think it's a waste of money," said one woman.
"Are there any meetings scheduled to discuss possibly closing Lynd and going to Marshall," one man said.
When asked if there were any Lynd board members present, Michelle Williams and Amy Korman stood up, noting that they were here as parents and community members and not necessarily as board members. A few of the community members present began questioning whether board members were even from the district. Korman set them straight.
"As a board, we're following the building committee's recommendations," Korman said. "That committee was made up of Lynd community members."
Korman assured the attendees that the Lynd School was "financially sound" and that there were certainly no plans to close or consolidate at this time.
Wilson explained that SGN had done an analysis of the building and pointed out its deficiencies, many of which are required by the state to be corrected.
"There is $4.9 million worth of work that should be done," he said. "Some of it is fairly immediate, and actually, the 1961 part of the building is in the worst condition."
Wilson said that a $3.9 million health and safety bond could be approved without a taxpayer levy vote.
"What I took from the committee's decision was that putting money into this (current) building was not prudent," Wilson said.
Insufficient classroom space and the lack of handicap accessibility were other factors involved in the discussion in addition to clean air and safety requirements.
"The pre-K through eighth-grade plan that was adopted includes 65,000 square feet," Wilson said. "The building itself is all one level. It's a fairly compact plan."
The current Lynd School building includes 45,000 square feet.
"The new plan is one-third bigger," Wilson said. "Some of the (current) rooms are under the space requirements according to state standards. Title Nine also requires equal locker room size and right now, the boys locker room is bigger."
After Wilson disclosed information about possible sites for the new building, Carolyn Drude, executive director for Ehlers, gave a financial presentation, asking for all questions to be held until the end.
"I am not here to tell you I know everything, but I do know that we have the most complex taxes of any state in the union," Drude said.
Drude went through possible scenarios and also explained that there were two different kinds of property tax refunds that may be available to Lynd residents.
"The circuit breaker is related to property tax and income, but the targeted homeowners refund is available if someone has at least a 12 percent increase and is $100 over the prior year's taxes," Drude said. "It's helpful on the first year it goes up, but I can't say it will be helpful every year of the 30 years."
One attendee interrupted Drude, pointing out that he didn't believe that getting a small portion of their increased tax amount back was "a plus."
Drude replied by saying, "I've been doing this for a lot of years, and I'm not here to tell you the bond issue is free. It's never free."
Taxpayers will have the opportunity to vote yes or no at the special election slated for Aug. 30. Two more informational meetings are scheduled: July 19 and Aug. 15, both at 7 p.m.
"I was hoping for the same kind of turnout as the last meeting where we had 152 people here," Houck said. "But I think people got the information they wanted before this."
Community members can call 1-800-552-1171 and ask for any member of the Ehlers education team to help figure out what their own individual property tax increase would amount to if the bond passes. Any questions regarding building construction are directed to SGN at 1-612-332-1401.