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Menomonie school board approves more funds for sports complex

MENOMONIE — By a slim margin, the school board on Monday night approved funds to help with another phase of the Menomonie High School Sports Complex.

It is anticipated the second phase will cost somewhere between $250,000 and $350,000 for lighting and a sound system. After a 5-4 vote in favor of more funding, the district would pay for half the total cost not to exceed $175,000.

An initial motion was proposed by boardmember Jim Swanson to bring the issue to a referendum and let the taxpayers decide what to do.

Board member David Styer said that was “ridiculous” given that the school district had recently paid off a more than $30 million referendum for district improvements. He also had an issue with the board dodging making a call on the matter.

Schools Superintendent Joe Zydowsky said it wouldn’t be wise to put this to a referendum so soon without an attorney reviewing the motion.

That motion was defeated by 5-4 vote.

Styer then proposed the motion, which passed, to approve construction and financing of the second phase.

Board member Amy Riddle-Swanson said she is against this motion because a promise was made early on that the funding would be raised without the school district’s help.

“The integrity of the promise needs to be kept,” she said.

Swanson has also been supporting this position since the board began discussing it a month ago.

Board member Tricia Thompson said it is hard to rationalize this much money going toward the sports complex again. She argued it would benefit arts and music to have a project this big.

Styer said the community has raised remarkable amounts of money for this project since the beginning. He described this as “great value for the dollar.”

The Community Foundation of Dunn County as well as pledges and donations to the district bring the total amount raised to around $50,000 for the lighting and sound system.

According to the motion, funding for the district’s portion could come from the general fund balance.

Like previous meeting, students, school faculty and residents spoke for and against the funding lights and a sound system for the sports complex.

Planning for the sports complex started in 2014. Phase one — a track and field, soccer field and football field — was completed in 2016.

Also approved Monday night were a $50,000 contribution to the Home Sweet Menomonie home loan program, tweaks to the district bus routing policy and an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, use policy.

Contact: 715-830-5840, ben.rueter@ecpc.com, @BenRueter on Twitter

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