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LUHS Voters Will Be Asked To Authorize Land Purchase

Wikimedia Commons GPReimer

MINOCQUA – The Lakeland Union High School Board of Education will ask district electors at a special meeting June 19 to authorize the district to purchase a house adjoining the school campus in Minocqua.

The finance committee recommended that the district buy it for the asking price of $134,500 – about $10,000 less than one appraisal. If voters approve, the board would tap fund balance to finance the purchase.

The property at 8678 Niemi Drive is directly west of the football field. The owner had approached the district about its possible purchase. There has been discussion at the committee level about being prepared in case one of the homes on the west side of the campus becomes available.

Board president Ed Schaub said the purchase would mean the school could move the runway for the long jump and triple jump west of the football field, instead of the planned use of a piece of the football practice field. While all board members voted yes at their meeting May 22nd, Barb Peck and Emily Hallstrom had concerns. Hallstrom wonder “if something productive” could be made of the house versus tearing it down. Peck asked why the district needed the property when there are pressing education issues. “We are looking at so many things,” she said, including a possible pilot school for autistic students. “How does $135,000 improve student achievement?”

Finance Director Gregg Kopp answered by saying the board should prepare for future needs also. “I would answer that by saying, do we need it today. No. But my experience over the years, healthcare and education, any organization that had an opportunity to buy land adjoining its main campus that didn’t exercise that, they were kicking themselves 10, 15 years down the road.”

Other board members and the administration gave assurances that the district would use the building in some fashion, likely for building trades in the tech-ed department. Peck apparently was swayed by the arguments, adding that she believes more emphasis should be placed on getting students into the trades, represented by building, plumbing and electrical. “I actually like the idea of exploring different uses for that building,” said board member Barry Seidel. “We create artificial living spaces inside this building so the kids can practice living in an artificial living space.”

Seidel said he spoke to two local Realtors, and their opinion was that the $134,500 was not far off the mark. One said they could move the property within a week because there is a high demand for homes in that price range.

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