Committee to find owner for ‘old’ RF AcademyThe school board Monday night OK’d forming a Citizens Advisory Committee that will zero in on an alternative owner to develop and maintain the 1926 portion of the River Falls Academy.
By: Phil Pfuehler, River Falls Journal
The school board Monday night OK’d forming a Citizens Advisory Committee that will zero in on an alternative owner to develop and maintain the 1926 portion of the River Falls Academy.
Superintendent Tom Westerhaus said the committee’s timeline will be spelled out and timely.
“There is only a two-year window,” he said. “We don’t want to drag this out.”
The 1926 portion of the Academy takes up almost half of the overall building. Space is rented to groups, including the YMCA that will soon close.
The school district also uses the oldest part of the building for limited office space.
New additions after World War II and in 1991 have some community uses and houses the Montessori and Renaissance school programs.
The old portion is viewed as a structural and mechanical money drain no longer suitable for education.
Members of the new Citizens Advisory Committee will be appointed.
Board members made it clear the aim is not to find a new way for the school district to use and operate the old section of the Academy.
“Our intent is not to hang on to that building,” board member Alan Tuchtenhagen said.
Members of the Citizens Advisory Committee will be appointed next month and begin meeting in May.
The committee will report regularly to the school board and will be asked to make a final recommendation to the board for an alternative owner by no later than May 2014.
Monday night the board also:
- Approved the appointment of high school junior Maura Watson, daughter of Hal and Maggie Watson, as a nonvoting, student representative to the school board.
Watson applied and was picked for the position by Westerhaus and High School Principal Elaine Baumann.
“This is something we’ve talked about for a number of years,” board member Manny Kenney said in welcoming Watson. “It’s nice to see it come to fruition.”
- OK’d a two-year cooperative partnership with UW-River Falls to use the school district’s Montessori program as a “lab school” for college students to get Montessori-teacher training.
Some preparation for the program starts this summer. Students and faculty members will begin appearing in Montessori classes this fall. The UWRF Montessori program is for a master’s degree.
Westerhaus said UWRF will support the collaboration so that it will be “revenue neutral” for the school district.
Board members were assured that the school district will still call the shots as to how its Montessori program is run.
Tuchtenhagen said the UWRF affiliation will further enhance the “Montessori identity” and credentials for the River Falls School District.
Westerhaus said it was a “great opportunity to connect with the university” and provide “ongoing Montessori training for our own staff.”
School board president Stacy Johnson Myers called the move a “great connection to the academic world.” She said the district/university mix would boost research and bring new ideas and vitality to the Montessori program.
- Heard Meyer Middle School Principal Mark Chapin say that the district will host a two-day regional conference, including an appearance by nationally known inspirational speaker Hal Urban, on character education at the high school Aug. 16-17.
Local teachers, educators from the area and even other states are expected to attend.
Now in its second year, Chapin leads the district’s character education curriculum.
- Recognized with Wildcat Pride certificates the efforts of middle school music teachers Janet Hanson, Mike Fuller, Marsha Pearson and Lori Moe in the all-grade musical production of “The Dastardly Doctor Devereaux” last month.
- Recognized the high school gymnastics team and its coaches for finishing a close second in the March 3 state competition.
Editor’s Note: Look for future columns by Superintendent Tom Westerhaus to update Journal readers on school referendum constructions projects that get underway this summer.