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Mitchell school board takes $22.9M step toward funding new high school

Step will help fund new Mitchell High School building project

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The Mitchell Board of Education held a special meeting Monday, Jan. 24 at Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy.
Mitchell Republic File Photo
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MITCHELL — The Mitchell Board of Education approved a resolution to authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds that will go toward funding the construction of a new Mitchell High School building in the near future.

The board made the decision by 5-0 vote at a special meeting of the board held Monday evening, Jan. 24 at the Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy.

Joe Graves, superintendent for the Mitchell School District, said work continues on the specifications and design of the proposed high school, and the passage of the bond resolution will help prevent the need for raising taxes on district patrons.

“The specs and design are going well. (The committee) last met on Thursday and is working through a number of processes. We do not have a final price on the building right now, but we are committed to the fact that this money and saving for this purpose, along with the federal dollars, will cover the budget for this building,” Graves said.

The decision allows for the issuance of $22.9 million in general obligation bonds that will go toward the proposed building of a new high school structure, a goal toward which the district has been working for several years. The district has for years been putting away money in a special capital outlay fund that will also go toward the project, which is estimated to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 million to $45 million.

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In addition to the bonds and the saved money, the district is also planning to use a portion of the federal COVID-19 relief funds issued to schools across the country to put toward the goal. Steve Culhane, business manager for the Mitchell School District, has said the district has federal relief dollars to put toward construction.

Kevin Kenkel, a member of the board, asked if there was a chance that some of the money gained through the bond issue may not need to be spent on the high school project. Culhane confirmed that the district would need all the funding from the bonds for the project.

“We would need to see all those bonds,” Culhane said.

A member of the audience, Steve Sibson, Mitchell, was in attendance at the meeting and expressed concerns about the high school project funding.

“This is a big project, and that building is still standing,” Sibson said. “If it’s flattened by a tornado or on fire we’d need a new building. There are a lot of people that I listen to that are concerned about the direction we’re taking in this economy.”

Sibson also said it seemed as though a move this big should be subject to a vote by district patrons. The board had no immediate comment on the concerns.

The current Mitchell High School building was built in 1962 and is in need of an upgrade. School officials decided that with the building already getting on the older side, it made more sense to build a completely new structure for the high school rather than trying to upgrade a building that is nearly 60 years old.

The Mitchell Board of Education also named an architect for the project in 2021. More moves concerning the new high school are expected at upcoming board of education meetings.

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Executive session

The Mitchell Board of Education again entered an executive session to discuss the qualifications, competence, performance, character or fitness of any public officer or employee or prospective officer or employee.

The board met behind closed doors for approximately 40 minutes before returning to open session. The board made no decision upon returning to open session, and Deb Olson, chair of the Mitchell Board of Education, had no comment on the agenda item. Olson said the board may address the issue at its next meeting

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Mitchell Board of Education is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 14 at 5 p.m. at the Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy commons.

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