Garretson School Board Authorizes Opt Out Election

At a special meeting on January 25, the Garretson Board of Education voted unanimously to pass a resolution to opt out of property tax limitations and hold an election on March 21 on the proposal. The school board has had several information sessions related to the financial condition of the district in the past few months. At the special meeting, the board heard more information regarding the district’s need to opt out in order to preserve current educational programming in the district. More information will be presented to the public in a variety of ways, with informational meetings with Q&A scheduled at a date and time yet to be determined. Written information provided to the board is available on the school’s website at this link: January 25th Special Meeting Packet

Video from the meeting will be available on the Alliance Cable channel 230 at 6:30 PM January 26th and January 27th, and is also available on YouTube.

Athletic Complex Improvements

Back in 2005, the Garretson School District put in one of the premier small school athletic complexes in the state.  That facility has served us well, as a point of community pride as we host people from other schools in football, soccer and track.  The normal life expectancy of a synthetic turf field and track is normally in the 10-12 year range.  This year our facility saw its seventeenth year of use.  Over the last few years, the facility has begun to show its age.  Over the last year, we have been working on plans to replace the turf and track, update the scoreboard and replace concrete that has broken over time.  We also intend to install a sidewalk and permanent visitors’ bleachers on the east side of the field.  

We have been working with Infrastructure Design Group to create the plans for the refresh.  One challenge that our athletic turf presents is that of drainage.  The drainage system that was installed back in 2005 is a Brock underlayment system.  Engineers have found that this type of system is more appropriate for warmer climates than the upper midwest freeze / thaw cycle that we experience in SD.  A different system will be required in order to replace the synthetic turf, requiring us to remove about a foot and a half of substrate from the field and then using a tile drainage system along with fill that is not susceptible to movement in the freeze/thaw cycle.  

Our plan is to go out for bids for the project in January, with the hope that we will be able to start the construction in April to be ready for next fall.  We will finance the project through our capital outlay fund, using a combination of spending down the reserve in that fund and capital outlay certificates.  After the bids come in, the board will need to determine how much we spend out of our Capital Outlay reserve and how much to finance through certificates.  

We are excited to make the improvements to the complex.  That facility is one of the best in our conference and in our class, something for our community to be proud of.  This refresh will ensure that it continues to be a great place to play football and soccer as well as host track meets and other community events.

Garretson School District Awarded $1.185 Million Dollars!

The Garretson School District has been notified that we are one of only a few school districts in the State of South Dakota to be selected as the recipient of a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for the purchase of up to three electric school busses and the associated charging infrastructure.  Business Manager Jacob Schweitzer had the idea for writing the grant and its potential positive impact on the district.  

We have much to learn in a short time about electric school busses before we make a recommendation for the purchase of one of these busses.  At this point, we believe we will likely take advantage of the program to purchase two electric school busses, which would allow us to keep two spare diesel powered busses in the fleet for use as needed.  

Electric school busses typically have a maximum range of between 120 and 130 miles.  One of our concerns is that with the harsh South Dakota winters, we know that the range of the electric busses will be reduced.  We will need to determine how much the range decreases to see if they are appropriate for use on those very cold South Dakota days in January and February.  If we determine that those busses are not appropriate in extreme cold, we plan to use those spare busses on those days to ensure that all of our students get to school safely.  

We are excited to be on the front end of this potential change.  The district should see substantial savings in the operational costs using these busses.  A typical diesel school bus gets between 6 and 7 miles per gallon.  The equivalent use of electric vehicles (based on cost of fuel) is approximately 24 mpg.  The costs of maintenance *(think oil changes) is also significantly reduced.  Stay tuned for more news as we move forward with the project!