Property Owners-W-K School
Several property owners have been approached by Winona Area Public Schools, which is looking to purchase land for an expansion of Washington-Kosciusko Elementary School as part of the district's $82 million facilities referendum.
Reluctance is being felt from many who own property north of W-K, right in the path of the district's expansion plan. One says he will only sell if his neighbors do, too. Another homeowner said he would be open to selling if the offer is fair. Another said she and her husband have lived in their house for decades and don't want to move. She said she wishes they would have gone with Jefferson because of the size and more greenspace for expansion.
In June, Winona school board members voted 4-3 to close Jefferson and Madison elementary schools, moving those students to either W-K or Goodview.
Community members and some board members have said the district is making a mistake, vacating the district's largest elementary site in the city - Jefferson sits on 12.5 acres - while sending 500-plus students to W-K.
According to documents the district submitted to the state, W-K, even after the expansion, would be small and crowded. It would sit on 2.6 acres with the additional land, well short of the state's 10-plus-acre recommendation for elementary schools.
Despite W-K's small footprint, Brenda Cassellius, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education, gave a positive review and comment of the district's facilities plan last month - a necessary step before the referendum Nov. 7.
In Minnesota, any school district with the authority to purchase land or buildings without voter approval also has the power to condemn and claim properties of its choosing, whether or not the property owners agree to sell.