Winnebago city leaders are taking a proactive approach regarding Southern Plains Education Cooperative’s (SPEC) plans to re-locate in Fairmont.
They want to know what’s going happen with the building once SPEC shutters its doors after next school year.
Councilman Scott Robertson addressed Blue Earth Area School Board members during the public input portion of Monday night’s board meeting.
While not speaking on behalf of the full City Council, Robertson says the city doesn’t want to get stuck with a vacant building that will only deteriorate.
“There’s one in Amboy that’s stayed empty for years and is in pretty tough shape right now,” he says. “We’re concerned about it.”
Board chairman Jesse Haugh told Robertson there have been no formal discussions about the school building.
However, that is expected to change since board members later in the meeting passed three resolutions allowing SPEC to move its operations.
Citing Delavan and Elmore as examples, Robertson says the district has set a precedent for cities to gain ownership of a school once it has been closed.
Robertson says the city could have various uses for the building, such as a child day care center.
Last month, the Winnebago Economic Development Authority board discussed whether Genesis Classical Academy (GCA) could use the building.
Located in the north end of the Heartland Senior Living facility, the private non-denominational Christian school has more than doubled in size since opening in 2015.
For the upcoming school year there will be 70 students enrolled in grades pre-K through 7th.
GCA president Bill Erickson says school officials currently aren’t looking for a bigger facility because of the benefits gained from interaction between students and residents.
“We are not involved in the planning regarding the future of the Winnebago public school building,” he says. “We are only spectators at this time.”
Erickson does admit, however, that their current location isn’t meeting all the needs of GCA students.
“GCA has made inquiries about using the Winnebago public school gymnasium, but SPEC has been unwilling to make this available in the past,” says Erickson. “This continues to be a need.”