Board terminates lease as Alternative Learning Center will move to high school, district audit gets high marks

By John McLoone

The Hastings School Board voted to cancel the lease on its Alternative Learning Center.

The board voted this fall to use remaining funds from its bonding program to renovate a section of the high school to house the ALC.

The ALC is currently housed in a building at 213 Ramsey St., near the Hastings Post Office. That building is owned by the City of Hastings.

Upon the unanimous vote, a certified letter was sent to City Administrator Dan Wietecha with the district’s intent to end the lease.

The letter states, “As you know, the city of Hastings and Independent School District No. 200 are parties to a lease agreement dated September 18, 2019 relating to the premises located at 213 Ramsey Street, Hastings, MN 55033. According to Section 2.1 of the Lease, a party may terminate the Lease at any time by giving written notice to the other party at least one year prior to the intended date of termination. Pursuant to Section 2.1, this letter constitutes the District’s written notice that it will terminated the lease effective November 30, 2022.

Superintendent Dr. Robert McDowell said plans for the move of the ALC to “the first floor C-pod” at the high school are being finalized and construction will start in early 2022. The ALC will have its own entrance from outside and will be separate from the high school but will allow access to things like the high school gym for ALC students. Also, it will allow easier access for staff that teaches programs at the ALC and high school.

“We’ve started through the facilities process,” said Mc-Dowell. “The board approved that one of the final projects to take on was the move of the ALC to the first-floor pod C at the high school. This is a piece of that. We have a current lease where we need to give one year’s notice. The current lease is $34,000 annually. That would be a budget add-back into the mix that we wouldn’t be expending dollars for.”

Board member Lisa Hedin asked, “Do we have any concerns, or could you share how comfortable you are with the cancellation given we haven’t let the bid yet?”

“That’s my hesitation right now, if we get a really unfavorable bid. If we find out in two months, could we rescind this?” Hedin followed up.

McDowell said that throughout the building process, district consultants cost projections have been very accurate.

“I don’t’ have any concerns with this,” said McDowell. Audit The district finance department got high marks in the annual audit of Hastings School District expenditures and revenue. Auditor Aaron Nielsen of MMKR Certified Public Accountants in Minneapolis said that the district’s general fund budget was within one percent of actual expenditures for the fiscal year ended 2021.

“We’re pleased with the reports for your district,” said Nielsen.

He noted that 70 percent of district funding comes from the state of Minnesota, while property tax payments fund 22 percent of district operations. Federal sources make up 5 percent of the budget, with most of the remainder of the revenue coming from fees.

Actual general fund revenue from the state last school year was $40,287,634. Property tax revenue was $12,864,944.

Expenses from the general fund were: Salaries $29,504,316 Employee benefits $13,876,088 Purchased services $7,618,115 Supplies and materials $2,542,166 Capital expenditures $478,413 Other expenditures $718,976. Following the presentation of the audit, school board member Scott Gergen commented, “I would like to thank Jen (Director of Business Jennifer Seubert) and her team for all the time and effort that goes into this. This is something we’ve seen year after year, just perfect results. Every year we are so close with our budgeting. It’s a point of pride with our district. Without you it wouldn’t happen.”

December 8, 2021