Pine Island board approves new site for school
PINE ISLAND — Pine Island's new pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade school is on the move.
The Pine Island School Board approved a different site for the new school since difficulties obtaining clear title to the original site threatened to delay the project.
"The school is moving 1,200 feet," school board chairman John Champa said.
The original 38-acre site might not have a clear title before the district hoped to break ground in mid-September. And since the timetable of starting and finishing the new school in time for fall 2015 was tied to upgrades and renovations at the old school building, the district needed a site where it could begin immediately.
The new site is 40 acres adjacent and directly east of the 38-acre site. The new building site still runs along 125th Street, but no longer borders New Haven Road.
There are several advantages to the new site, though, Champa said. For example, the new site has a higher elevation, meaning it will require less site development. It is also a quarter mile closer to utilities. And it is slightly farther from the busy intersection.
While it no longer abuts the Douglas Trail, the new site will be connected to the trail with a walking path that parallels 125th Street.
Like the original building site, the new 40-acre site will be donated by Tower Investments. Champa said he was assured the district could close on the new site in time to break ground for the school on schedule. A representative from the district's construction management firm added that the new site would save more than $100,000 in site preparation costs.
In other business
The board voted against an option to support the building of a new school for the Zumbro Education District cooperative. Pine Island is one of seven ZED members, and the ZED board is asking those member districts to approve a levy to build a new school for the special needs students it serves.
But the Pine Island board rejected all of the suggested options from ZED. Several members felt it was unfair to seek another construction levy so soon after getting voter approval for $40 million in new and upgraded facilities.
"The thing is the timing for Pine Island isn't right," said Pine Island superintendent Tammy Berg-Beniak. "Those students will be serviced. If (ZED) gets to a point they can't service everyone, they'll drop a program and those students will be serviced in their district again."
Pine Island has 22 students served by ZED.
Champa noted that of the seven districts that are part of ZED, four passed new construction bond referendums this past year.