Fairmont superintendent: School year still up in air

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont School Board on Tuesday heard from Superintendent Joe Brown, who gave a brief update concerning the upcoming school year.

“People keep asking about what the future, the fall, looks like and at this point we do not know,” he said. “However, the [Fairmont Area Schools] cabinet did meet last week for 16 hours and since that time there’s a document that the cabinet has been working on which talks about three different options. That’s what the Minnesota Department of Education has directed all schools to do: create three different options.”

Brown said option one is to have everybody back to school as normal; option two would see fully implemented distance-learning; and option three is a mix of both.

“We’re going to wait until the governor comes out on Monday, July 27, with some additional specifics. We do plan to meet on the 29th with a representative group of teachers, and we’d certainly like to invite some board members.”

The Minnesota Department of Education recently completed an informal survey of Minnesota families. It showed that a majority of respondents (64 percent) would be comfortable sending students back to school in the fall, though public health concerns remain. Less than 12 percent of respondents said they would not feel comfortable sending students back to school. The results of the survey are available on the department’s website.

Turning to other business, the school board passed a resolution adopting a 10-year long-term facilities maintenance plan, in order to qualify for state funding.

“It’s more cost-effective in the long run to have these smaller projects, to be able to go after them piece by piece, rather than have all the problems build up and then all of a sudden have a great big project where you have to get a brand new building or something like that,” said board member Dan Brookens. “The average age of our school buildings is 47 years old, but you would never know that just by looking at them.

“Excluding the new elementary wing, you’ve got what was the high school/junior high that was built in the early ’50s and then the current high school that was built in 1972.

“I go to other different schools for sports, and our buildings look just as good as ones that are 20 to 30 years newer,” he continued. “That’s because of the work that we put into them and the support we’ve received from voters.”

Brown complimented students and staff for the good shape of the buildings.

“We don’t have the graffiti that other schools have,” he said. “We don’t have the damage that other schools have. We have great students who help take really great care of our facilities, and we have a great buildings and grounds department.”


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