Should the Northfield School District partner with the YMCA on a facility on school property?

Northfield ISD 659Northfield Area YMCA

I’m undecided on the issue.  The School Board votes on Oct. 25. Background:

District: Northfield Public Schools Board of Education Hosts Open House and Information Session on YMCA Facility Proposal

YMCA:  Our Next Steps

School board member Kari Nelson: Board wants input on YMCA decision

School board member Jeff Quinnell: We’re NHS, not NYHS

School board member Mike Berthelsen: NHS, YMCA a worthy partnership

Nfld News: District hosts YMCA open house

Nfld News: Opinions strong on both sides of YMCA partnership debate

41 thoughts on “Should the Northfield School District partner with the YMCA on a facility on school property?”

    1. YMCA campuses have been a part of my life since I was about four. I have found that the people and the culture of YMCA both have deep and rich entrenchments in being a good community member, having a sense of civic duty to each other and your surroundings, and contributing something of yourself in order to create a multi-faceted existence for everyone. The “Y” was never about a purely Christian approach to life and its functions. As a matter of fact, as near as I could ever decipher, the YMCA seemed full of all faiths and types of worship. Kids from Ethiopia were in my art class and one girl from Romania was in my ballet class. Then, when I was on the swim team, I met a girl from Lyon, France. She could dive better than I and I wanted to know how she did it. The difference between some community centers and schools and other types of after-school enrichment (read: church) is that the YMCA programs and the people who administer them provide for a mood and expectation of sharing. It’s kin to Montessori Methods, for those who may never have been a member of a Y. You can learn about that type of learning and leadership here: http://www.montessori.edu/

      When physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs are met children glow with excitement and a drive to play and work with enthusiasm, to learn, and to create. They exhibit a desire to teach, help, and care for others and for their environment.

      Having a YMCA campus on the same land and site as the local schools currently use makes several things less of an issue:

      * transportation of children to and from the school/after-care
      * fuel use and added insurance/hourly wage costs
      * duplication/competition of county resources
      -pools (wintertime indoor)
      -tracks, play fields
      -team sports and activities

      Combining the sites makes sense to me as a person who has been on all sides of the YMCA experience (child, employee, member, and potential member) because I hated riding the bus and I hated taking kids from school to the site (I always worried about the one who was sick or wasn’t there). Also, I felt that the schools could have shared in the responsibilities with the Y in order to make better and more lasting resources for the community. As it was the schools couldn’t afford to make what the YMCA could because of financial limitations and bid restrictions. That resulted in the YMCA winning people’s favor and patronage, ultimately the dilapidation and deletion of care for county built spaces. Everyone wants to avoid blight. That’s a given. What seems odd to me is that working things out together and sharing the responsibility for caring and growing the area around our homes here in Northfield and Dundas is not. If we vote for a partnership between these entities, certainly there will need to be a plan for dividing up what will be a tax-dollar appropriated item and what will not. However, just because we as citizens here, in Northfield and Dundas, support arts, music, athletics and environmental savvy this does not mean that the tenet of our efforts is instilled in our community’s children. The commitment should be made AVAILABLE to them, not just clear to them.

      Some will say that the two college campuses offer athletics enough to families here. But I must ask: what of the employees of our cities? And what about the hospital employees and TEACHERS? There are plenty of people we are not considering when we think our two small colleges can handle the needs of this diverse and needful community.

      By building smaller gyms like SNAP, LIFETIME, and Northfield Athletic Club the sense of shared community resource becomes more based on personal preference and financial ability instead of fellowship. Now, I get sick of people too, and on occasion want to be on a treadmonster in the corner listening to Hair Bands on my i-portable-device. But, for the most part, I am wishing I had someplace I could go this winter where my next door neighbor could come too, and if costs were an issue they wouldn’t be for long. Similarly, I am saddened that if we want to exercise we have to get a sitter for her. The YMCA? Built-in child care, safety, activities, arts, music…you see where I am headed with this.

      I know there are plenty of people still concerned that something like this seems corporate and chain-like. I just am not seeing the connection. Whenever I deal with someone at the YMCA I don’t get the impression I’m a number. I am Angela, the kid who won an award for canoeing, the teenager who won awards in swimming, the co-counselor who led 30 girls on a hike, the campus member who started a swim chart with 20 other people, and the woman who (has yet to have kids, but) can’t wait to see her husband take a daughter to an Indian Princesses outing.

  1. Guest Column from Heidi Kram (Physican at Allina Clinic, parent and Northfield resident)

    New Y will help Northfield socially and physically
    http://northfieldnews.com/news.php?viewStory=54130

    Guest Column from Linda & Jim Sawyer, Tim & Carol Cowles and Andrea & Bryan Hoff

    Community would benefit from Y/school partnership
    http://northfieldnews.com/news.php?viewStory=54646&cache_id=10655

    Letter to the Editor from Regi Haslett-Marroquin.

    Y a community project
    http://northfieldnews.com/news.php?viewStory=54797

  2. If anything, the Y should go north of town. Viking Terrace area would benefit from the Y greatly.

    Putting it by the high/middle school just adds competition to the other 4(are there more?) fitness places nearby.

    1. Hi Anthony – Great concern. First, fitness is only a slice of what a Y provides a community. Second, one of the pieces the Y provided the school board was research of other communities (who already have YMCAs) and how many fitness centers are also in town and info on colleges and universities. Northfield is actually under represented with the number of fitness centers in towns of similar sizes – and they already have healthy YMCAs.

      I posted on our website the document the School Board has already reviewed. http://northfieldymca.org/about/our-next-steps

      1. within a 2 mile square area? you have snap, anytime, northfield athletic club, the senior center am I missing any?

        thats pretty packed for a 2 mile (approx) square area

      2. Regarding closeness to other fitness centers, actually, as Fitness Manager at the Northfield Senior Center, I would see that as an advantage rather than a competition. At NSC we have members of the Senior Center who are also members of Snap or Anytime or Carelton or visit the Athletic club or the Heartwork Yoga studio or do some training at BodySmith for various specific offerings or instrucors or hours at those locations. You would be suprised at how many people use resources of a few different locations in town. Yet these people also enjoy our programs and support our mission. We are happy to see people enjoy Wellness anywhere in town. The Senior Center doesnt take any issue with the YMCA being located closeby. In fact, the proximity would aid collaboration – which is a common practice amoungst many non-profit organizations.
        I think all of these various entities in town are strong and wouldnt be affected by the location of a YMCA. Some had concerns about the Athletic Club when the Senior Center moved to its current location..and look – 10 yrs later it’s still going strong.

  3. Griff,

    I am so glad you started this thread. I, also, am undecided. I’m leaning toward a pro-Y stance–it seems like the school district gets a free building out of the deal in the worst-case scenario, but I thought both opinion pieces (but Quinnell and Berthelsen) in the NNews last week were thoughtful (actually, I was overjoyed to have school board members EXPRESS an independent opinion of any sort–at LEAST one is not following the supe like a sheep!).

    I’d love to hear a discussion of the pros and cons here!

  4. I was brought up in a Catholic school in Chicago, which was doing fairly well, but the YMCA saved my summers, as I went to their camp, and saved my winters as I swam in their pool. I was never approached by anyone to sign up for any belief system whatsoever. It seemed like people were just there to offer classes, activities and first aid when needed. So, I have fond memories.

    I recall that many of the kids and adults I met were of varying backgrounds. I did live in Hyde Park which was named the most successfully integrated neighborhood in the country for several years. I never knew the Y to turn people away based on their ethnic or religious background.

    There are other religious group that offer the same level of neutralized activities for anyone who walks through the doors, correct?

    On the other hand, I know how important it is to separate gov and religion. Maybe if a group came in calling themselves, The Association, it would be alright to have facilities in the public school system, or would it?

  5. Ok, the testimonials on the Y as a worthy and transformative organization in some of your lives are great. But, by themselves, they don’t answer the question of whether this particular proposal with the Northfield schools is a good one. Can someone speak to that?

    1. The initial proposal the Y presented to the School Board (which includes a 3-page executive summary and appendix of details) is located at this site for further details to answer that question: http://northfieldymca.org/about/our-next-steps.

      The most basic benefits for the school district are a) they will own a debt free facility, b) no tax dollars will be used to build or support on-going operations of the Y, c) and use of the gym, indoor pool and classrooms (without fee) during the day for curriculum (Special Education, Health classes and PE programs) as well as use of those spaces and the indoor walking track during afterschool time periods (extra curricular).

      The partnership also allows the Y and Community Services to work more closely together to provide quality programs with as little duplication as possible as well to address unmet needs in the community. They offer a tremendous number of wonderful programs – and so does the Y. Individually we can’t ‘do it all’ but together we can do much more.

      This particular location will also support parents of the district – it is close to four of the five schools – in particular the middle and high school and programs and activities at the Y can help to fill any unmet void of activities needed for our teens, particularly after 6:00 pm and on weekends.

      Thy synergy when these two organizations work together is wonderful and thus the multiplier effect for the school district parents is the working together to address drop-out rates, risky behavior, leadership development or simply providing healthy opportunities for kids to do both in and out of physical activities. Most Y physical activities attract kids that simply want to participate in a sport – not necessarily compete.

      This model is one that is currently (and increasingly) being done nationally as 33% of newly built Y’s in the country are building facilities with schools. The most common time Y facility space is not used is during the day and that’s when schools are looking for additional space. It’s a an efficient use of community resources.

  6. Kathie,
    Here are a few practical benefits gleaned from the published materials and meetings. I’ve added some emphasis for those who don’t seem to be paying close attention to what is actually been proposed. Don’t mean to shout…

    1) The Y organization will undertake the work of raising private contributions to pay the entire cost of building and managing the facility. The district gets a FREE building that provides lots of useful spaces for school and community use. That is FREE, as in NO TAXPAYER FUNDS.

    2) The district continues to own the land on which the building sits. That is, THE DISTRICT IS NOT “GIVING AWAY” ANY LAND. It isn’t even leasing the land to the Y. It is still school district property. And, for all of those people concerned with property taxes, the land is already non-taxpaying, so no property will be removed from the tax rolls.

    3) The location and proposed building reflect many features of the community’s other plans and aspirations for sustainable development, compact design, opportunities for children and youth, etc. The Y can and will provide a variety of after-school, evening and weekend programs to which many children will be able to walk, bike or skateboard. Reduces the expense and environmental impact of busing and driving.

    4) The proposed project represents a new level of collaboration to meet community needs. In a time of strained resources, this is a terrific private-public partnership. Did I mention that no taxpayer funds are involved?

    5) The building will be built to school district standards and specs. The Y’s operating agreement will conform to the requirements of the school district re: non-discrimination and access to programs and services. (The hue and cry over separation of church and state is a complete red herring. There are hundreds of examples of existing school district-YMCA partnerships. These have not brought down the constitution.)

    Perhaps the most legitimate concern about the proposal is that recreational space is not, at the moment, a high priority for the district, aside from Jeff Quinnell’s passion for building a field house to rival Cannon Falls’. Fair enough. But the Y proposal costs the district nothing. It does not impede the school board’s focus on pressing academic matters.

    There are two very real opportunities here: the first is the practical benefits to the community of the programming for families, youth and children that a Y provides, which a partnership with the school district can facilitate to mutual benefit. But an equally important benefit will be the school board’s demonstration that it is willing and able to think creatively and long-term about working in partnership with the community. That would be an enormous step forward for us all. Who knows what other private-public partnerships might emerge to help make Northfield a stronger community?

    1. Randy: are you just a very thoroughly- committed-to-the-partnership citizen, or are you in any way functioning for the Y in your professional ( PR ) capacity?

  7. I blogged back in May about the City’s general fund subsidizing the Northfield Community Resource Center (NCRC) building to the tune of $200,000 every year. (This does NOT include the debt service on the building.)

    Since the NCRC is close to the High School, has a pool and lots of space, it seems like the building would be perfect for the YMCA. Apparently, the City has approached the Y about this but it was rejected.

    I poked around the various resources to see what the Y’s rationale was for rejecting the NCRC but couldn’t find anything.

    Virginia, can you provide a link? If there’s nothing online to link to, can you summarize the Y’s rationale?

    1. Sure – First there was a large committee of community volunteers that worked for nearly 2 years looking at every possible site a Y could be built. A list of evaluation criteria was also created (with support from the YUSA). Each piece of property was evaluated to determine a) what was best for the community as a whole and b) what was best for the community users of the Y itself. At final count, we looked at over 15 locations.

      The NCRC was one of those locations. The main concerns for that specific site are; a) the available space (and components needed) – for a 45,000 sf Y facility, b) space available for growth, c) cost of development or remodeling and d) traffic at that section of Jefferson.

      Additional notes:
      1) had the city approached us 10 years ago (prior to the housing development) there would have been enough room for a YMCA facility. There was no Y movement in Northfield 10 years ago.

      2) the current (larger) tenants (Community Services, Community Action Center and the Senior Center) use a large majority of NCRC facility.

      3) research and studies have indicated the Y should build a full size gym, indoor walking track, indoor pool (with zero depth entry and lap swimming capability) as well as a few other key components.

      1. Griff – also it is good to understand that those entities that raised money for the NCRC to be built and gifted it back to the City of Northfield (the Northfield Senior Center, Community Action Center, United Way, Community Services/School District) received a certain number of years guarenteed lease in lieu of raising the funds for the portion they have had built and gifted back to the City.
        For instance, the pool/fitness area of the NCRC and other portions were paid for by the Northfield Senior Citizens and it was gifted back to the City with an agreement for a 20 yr lease. We have completed only 10 years of that lease. (We do pay a significant occupancy for the space the Senior Center paid to have built. ) Therefore the NSC end of the building isnt available for 10 more years and therefore that portion would not be even available for the Y or anyone else. It may be also that the NSC may have first bid on the space after the 20 years as well, but I do not specifically have that information.

  8. Virginia, Randy, and Griff:

    Thank you–this info is really helpful. Randy, I agree with you wholeheartedly–that’s been my take. I am trying to understand the opposing point of view better–but I’m not really seeing any downside to the Y proposal. Or I guess I should say, the downsides so far articulated seem, to me, small in comparison with the benefits. But I ‘m worried that I haven’t been paying attention to all of the arguments. I did attend part of the school district presentation–I have read the letters to the editor and guest columns, and I’m going to go now to read the executive summary Virginia has posted (for which, thanks). But I’m still not seeing the big “catch”….

  9. I am split but concerned about the school district “partnering” and thus favoring any one entity. Is this OK since the Y is a not-for-profit? If it was Lifetime Fitness would that be worse? I think if I were in the fitness center business in Northfield I would take very little comfort from the idea that the Y is a not-for-profit or that the Y claims Northfield can use another fitness center. I don’t think it is fair competition when the Y gets school property–and is more or less endorsed by (and attached to) the school. I think this is a pretty big question.

    It is a tougher question because the Y is an organization I support.

    I would much rather have a downtown Y. What about the Crossing site?

    1. Jane,
      This is a question many ask and many did ask when the Senior Center was built in its current location 10 yrs ago. Some had concern that somehow our collaboration with the City of Northfield, (and others who shared their $ to build the NCRC – Community Action Center, the United Way, Community Services..) was somehow unfair to for profit businesses. – lets say the Athletic club. However, one can look down the street and note it is still there, going strong with a Spinning and Body Pump sign outside – in fact Anytime and Snap are there not far away and they are also doing well. Then there is also the Heartwork Yoga Studio and the Body Smith and who else?
      The collaboratory building of facilities is actually a trend in the USA – NCRC as an example but there are many others. In Woodbury, the City Library, Community Education and the YMCA were built in a combined building. Many non profits and public entities are finding this makes sense and saves money and pools resources in the long run.
      This is forward community thinking, and not a ‘competition’ issue. I dont think a Y would have more members whether it was next to a school or not. I think it is more what the community has to gain with the resource of a gifted building available than any point of ‘an advantage’. If one knows how much $ it costs to run a year round pool and make it break even, not too many would be talking about this as being an unfair advantage’. If a pool would be a huge money maker, one of the for profit fitness clubs would have done it by now. I dont see any of them jumping at the idea..
      I dont think that the City of Northfield ‘endorses’ the United Way or the Community Action Center or the Northfield Senior Center simply because they collaborated together for building the NCRC.

  10. Kathy, Randy, Jane:

    I, too, am inclined to favor the Y proposal, for all or nearly all the good reasons already mentioned. But one question remains just a shade open to me: it’s about the “C” in YMCA and, to a much lesser extent, about the “M”. (No worries over the “Y” or the “A”!) I speak as one born and raised in both the “C” and the “M”groups.

    Here I may mildly differ with my learned friend Randy Jennings — by no means an advocate of theocracy, last time I checked — who smells red herring in such questions. I think there’s a little more to this than first meets the nose. Here are some questions that seem to me, if not entirely un-fishy then at least sushi-grade:

    1. I do not expect the YMCA organization to discriminate against, ban, or attempt to discourage non-C or non-M people. But is it far-fetched to imagine that non-C and/or non-M people might themselves resist association with a group that lists these credentials, albeit in initials, in its name?

    2. Partnerships like the one proposed are said to be operating successfully in many places. That’s good to know; it would be
    even better to know explicitly that problems like that in 1. either never arise, or have been dealt with successfully.

    3. The YMCA’s ideals (youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility appear most prominently on their national web site) are unexceptionable; I’ve never met anyone who opposes them. While these ideals are certainly consistent with the “C” persuasion, they are hardly unique to it. Does associating these ideals, even through nomenclature, with a particular religious persuasion cross any line we should care about?

    Balancing everything, I’d vote (if we were voting, and if the vote were today) to continue with the Y proposal. But I see reasonable concerns.

    1. Paul, do you think the negotiations would have gotten this far if the proposed partnership was between the School District and a Muslim organization with the same mission/charter/ideals as the Y?

      1. Paul,
        Your point three is the most salient. Yes, the YMCA has a 160 year heritage as an organization founded by CMs. But as the national organization’s recent decision to change the identity graphics from “YMCA” to “The Y” indicates, the commitment to welcoming and serving all children, youth and families without regard to (pick your characteristic) is not just a phrase in the mission statement: it is the way the Y lives and breathes. What is most important are the ideals you list.

        You are also right that I am not an advocate of theocracy of any kind. Even so, I am unconcerned about the letters in the long-form name. The Y’s principles are non-denominational; its century + heritage of service to the communities each way serves is exemplary.

        Many years ago, I learned to swim at a Y, went to Y summer camp, was involved in many different family programs. The memory I have is that the Y was emphatically NOT a church group; on the contrary, it was the place that kids and families broke out of their own church communities to meet and do things together. I’d hope the Y will serve that function here in Northfield, and not just with respect to religious groups.

  11. Paul and Jane,

    I agree with your concerns. That’s why I do not think this is a slam-dunk decision. Still, though, it seems very attractive. I guess I’d be inclined to keep negotiations going..

  12. I have read all of the information and feel I am very well informed on this issue. I have 3 children in the school district, but I do not support the YMCA building on school property for the following reasons.

    1)Why would the school district want to give/donate, whatever you want to call it, valuable land for a building that they would A)have to share, B) probably would not be built to meet all of the school districts needs – which in actually I question the school’s need for a basketball court, lap pool, and jogging/walking track and doubt that this be what the school district would build if they had the necessary funds.

    2)According to the school board there is little to no growth expected at the high school for the next 10-15 years. If anything we have peaked out.

    3)I saw a good question brought up on an earlier post on the Northfield News – are the funds already raised and sitting in the bank? If not how much of the funds necessary to build are currently received – not pledged, but received? It’s a valid question that deserves an answer to determine how much more money is needed to be raised and if it’s even attainable. Along that line how much money is the YMCA anticipating it will need to raise each year to operate and maintain the facility? It’s my understanding that the YMCA does not turn away members in need who otherwise cannot afford. I know there are a lot of people in need these day’s and unfortunately giving away memberships does not pay the utilities, salaries, and maintenance that will be necessary to operate.

    4) Anthony Pierre brings up a very valid point in that there are many other fitness facilities in town, the only one left out that competes with the YMCA the most is the community ed, which I am personally going to support more as the money is going back into the community vs. a non-profit that does not pay taxes – property aside, they pay no other taxes.

    5)People that support are under the impression there is no risk when in fact there is a lot of risk. If the YMCA cannot support itself, which I question that it can – you only need to look at the YMCA closing’s around the country with much bigger populations then the city of Northfield. In fact the majority are well over 3 times the size. The school district is at risk of being stuck with a building that A) They really didn’t need to begin with when there are bigger needs athletically speaking such as a field house, which would be for full school district use – no sharing of the facility. B) They would have to operate and maintain when budget’s right now are tight or basically non-existent. and C)would hinder future growth of other facilities necessary for the school.

    In summary I would rather the school wait for the economy to get better and build the facility they want – where they want. If the YMCA can raise $8MM to build a facility they can raise money to pay for the land. It’s my understanding the lease each year would be $1 for the school district…this is totally absurd. Why would this even be considered. The YMCA if nothing else should have to pay the fair market rent as dictated with those funds going back into the school district each month/year.

      1. Oops – sorry meant to add two points of clarification. If the Y was to build in partnership with the School District, benchmarks would be created. One of those benchmarks would be how much money the Y would need to raise before it began building the faiclity. This is a common lease agreement item for these sorts of partnerships.

  13. Virginia,

    You still did not answer the question of how much of the money needed to build is actually sitting in the bank vs. what is pledged? Also, what is your yearly budget expected to be for maintenance, salaries, etc.? How much additional money do you anticipate needing to operate on a yearly basis? – and to take it a step further what do you anticipate to be your break even number for memberships and what is the average membership fee you plan to charge? Does the school district plan on hitting up parents for additional money to help support the YMCA? — I don’t think many would be happy about receiving that memo/letter being sent home with there kids. These are very basic financial questions that need to be addressed and should have been addressed before this discussion with the school board ever took place and got as far as it did.

    The reality is that we are in a very tough economy right now. The school district and board members, at least the majority of them, are aware of tightening budgets. You are relying on donations and money from people that simply don’t have it to spare. As I said earlier if we were in a bigger community and better economic times, perhaps it would work, but then I imagine the school would have the necessary funds to build a facility it truly needs and wants vs. making an accommodation.

    Virginia, I feel you and the YMCA are great at marketing and painting a great picture of this and how it should work. But I do think we need to face reality here that this building on school grounds is really not a need nor do I feel it serves the necessary functions that the school board envisions if they were to have there own funding. I would urge the school board members to add this question to the list when voting.

    1. Further information:
      1) The potential lease agreement would benchmark both the number of dollars in hand and pledge dollars needed before any groundbreaking is done. If the Y did not meet these benchmarks, they would not build the facility in partnership with the School. This is common for agreements like this in other Y/School facility partnerships.

      2) A five year pro forma was provided to the school board at a work session in July. All expenses and projected revenue was listed to include annual positive balances that would be used for on-going capital re-investment of the building. The school’s business manager, maintenance manager as well as the school’s consultant (ICS Consulting) provided feedback on this information.

      3) The Y would leasing the building from the school district and operate like any other business leasing a building. If the Y wasn’t able to manage its business, then it would close. As mentioned earlier, primary cause for a Y’s closure nationally is long-term debt financing. If the partnership proceeds, it provides the school district with space without support from tax payers – not for the building of the facility (which the district would own) and not for operations. This would be clearly defined in the lease agreement and is common in other Y/School facility partnerships.

      4) The Y would conduct a private capital campaign raising the dollars needed to build the facility. There are best practice steps to follow in determining if funds can be raised for a project to include conducting a fundraising feasibility study. We conducted this study earlier this year and received results in March. Results of that study were positive in the ability for the Y to raise the necessary funds.

  14. Virginia,

    I don’t really feel you answered all of the questions. It appears that many of the points you bring up are scripted and vague meant to dance around key points, which I personally feel are reason’s for concern. I know it’s in the YMCA’s best interest to try and convince people this is a great thing, but I see more advantages for the YMCA then I do for the school district itself. I hate to keep coming back to this but I would really like a member of the school board to answer if this building and it’s facilities would be how they would draw it up if they had the money? I feel the YMCA is already in town and part of a fixture, but is better served to stay independent of the school. Should the YMCA falter it would be a significant burden on the district.

  15. I teach at the High School and have been following this topic fairly closely. I too have some nice memories of going to the YWCA and Y camp but this is not the issue at hand. The school board must weigh the future needs of the HS against the current plans of the YMCA and decide if those are truly compatible. It is not a clear yes vote because it is clearly not what the district and HS need at this time or in the foreseeable future. It seems a bit like getting an unexpected and expensive gift from a relative, say a new winter coat, that doesn’t quite fit, it’s not exactly the right style and color that you would have picked for yourself and it can’t be returned for something that would suit you better. No matter how well you spin things the immediate top needs for the HS do not include a new pool and gym, as nice as they might be. I am in favor of another location for the Y despite how well researched and tempting the plan that they have put forth is. I hope that the school board will cut through the sentiment so that it can get back to the business of doing school board business and eventually building exactly what the HS needs when it needs it.

    1. Gale and Christie,

      I think Gale makes a great point. The discussion is very much worth pursuing.

      I too teach at Northfield High School, where I also coach boys’ basketball. Posting my ideas on this web site is new territory, but this topic is important to me. It would be easy to come at this from purely a basketball coaching perspective based on the facilities we see every time we play on the road, but I will try not to do that. Additional gym space and classroom space that could be used during the school day and after school by health, phy ed, and co-curricular programs is a strong need. Northfield High School has less gym space than any school in the Missota Conference, yet we are certainly not the smallest school in the conference (three schools are smaller, and they all have some great indoor gym/recreational space!). Our Middle School actually has more gym space. I do not see this potential partnership as an “expensive gift” that “doesn’t quite fit”, just as I did not see the addition of an auditorium or new art rooms a handful of years ago as such. Those facilities helped create better educational opportunities for kids and are a necessary part of any child’s education. I would love to see our community support a partnership between the Y and the schools in order to do something that can benefit kids and families.

      It’s at least worth discussing further.

  16. Steve and Christie,

    I think part of what you’re saying is that the high school would be better served by waiting and building their own, custom-designed building. And, yes indeed, that **would** be the best option for the high school. However, that requires that taxpayers ante up. With this recession, that does not seem likely to me. And, for the next several years, I believe taxpayers will be reluctant to spend for extra levys when the School District could have had this space, essentially, for free.

    Of course if the district partners with the Y, the space won’t be as perfect for their needs. When you get a free building, you have to compromise.

    The larger issue for me is whether the Y can show it will be able to sustain the maitenance costs at least for a decade.

    I, too, think it is worth further discussion and exploration, at least from what I can see, now.

  17. NNews reporting that the board voted down the proposal 5-2, with Ellen Iverson and Mike Berthelsen voting in favor of continuing the discussion.

  18. Last week’s Nfld News:

    Commentary by Art and Emily Monaghan: Do you know the Northfield Y?

    Article: Y moves ahead with facility

    A ‘no’ from the School Board didn’t end the Northfield Area YMCA’s future. It merely sent the dozens of Y volunteers in another direction. An announcement regarding a site for a permanent Y could come by mid-spring, according to local Y director Virginia Kaczmarek.

    “We never had all our eggs in one basket,” Kaczmarek said of the proposed partnership with the school district. After realizing the board wasn’t interested in the Y’s plan to build on the high school campus and run the facility while the district owned the building, Kaczmarek said she, the Y board and volunteers “sprung right away into action.”

    Three sites, none which have yet been made public, have moved to the top of the list. Analysis of each of the parcels is now underway, along with negotiations for purchase.

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