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Questions About Our New Indoor Activities Center

When did the idea for an Indoor Activities Center come up?
The request was first presented to voters in 1995. When it did not pass, an Indoor Activities Center took a back seat to other facility issues, most notably the need for a new middle school and to renovate existing schools to current safety and efficiency standards. With those needs now met, the School Board’s Facilities and Finance Committee studied and recommended future facility projects.
Is the center just for basketball?
No. The center would benefit all activities. The five multipurpose courts (or the additional space) could be used for a number of sports, including baseball, golf, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball. The fitness center and indoor track would benefit conditioning activities for all sports. The center would also be available for community use.
Are Open Enrollment students driving this need?
No, this need is based on the incredible involvement of our students and our lack of space to accommodate that interest. An impressive 85 percent of the students at Orono High School participate in one or more activities. In the Wright County Conference, Orono has one of the largest student enrollments, but the fewest number of full-size gymnasiums. The popular youth sports leagues that serve our communities compete for space as well. The result is that participation is limited and/or students are practicing late into the evening, compromising family meals and time for homework. The Indoor Activities Center would accommodate these levels of participation. In addition, the walking track and fitness center would be available to community members who purchase memberships. Senior adults who live in the district would receive free memberships. Space in the center would also be available to rent for birthday parties and other types of events. None of the six cities served by Orono Schools offer residents a community center such as those located in Chanhassen, Maple Grove and Plymouth.
If the center is open to the public, what safeguards are in place to protect students?
Plans call for relocating Community Education offices from The Link to the Indoor Activities Center. Staff would control access to the center. The design itself separates community members and students, as well as prohibits access to Orono High School.
What about a new swimming pool?
A new swimming pool was not part of this bond request. Over the past 12 years, the school district has invested more than $1 million in maintaining and improving the current swimming pool. Additional improvements are planned over the next 10 years.
Did the School Board consider the need for Fine Arts space?
The School Board Facilities and Finance Committee did research Fine Arts needs and included expanded facilities as part of the district’s long-range plan. The district deeply values the Fine Arts, and is working with community partners to address those needs in a timely fashion.
Why is the price tag of our Indoor Activities Center higher than others recently built or under construction?
The proposed center is larger than many others. When you remove costs associated with parking, relocating fields and other improvements, our average cost per square foot is about $5 less.
Why is the cost per property owner so reasonable?
By law, operating levy votes are for a maximum of 10 years. The Indoor Activities Center would be financed over 16 years. An additional reason is that the savings from refinancing bonds can be used to offset the cost of the Indoor Activities Center. The $6.2 million in savings keeps the increase to about $4 per month on a $400,000 home. By law, we are not able to use these savings for instructional purposes.