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October 17, 2017

4/29/2013 12:31:00 PM
Schools, city talk potential partnerships
Byron Public Schools is expected to grow by roughly two percent  a year in resident enrollment over the next decade. Photo by David Richards
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Byron Public Schools is expected to grow by roughly two percent a year in resident enrollment over the next decade.

Photo by David Richards

By David Richards

It was a first for the city of Byron.

On April 24, the school board and the city council held a joint meeting at the Byron High School's multipurpose room.

The idea was the brainchild of district superintendent Jeff Elstad who spoke with city manager Mary Blair-Hoeft at a chamber function earlier this year about the concept.

"I told her I thought it would be good to know what the other shoe was doing," Elstad said.

The meeting lasted more than two and a half hours and included presentations on the district's recent demographic and building facility and capacity studies, its strategic plan, a review of city projects and then discussion on potential partnerships.

"I think it was great," Blair-Hoeft said of the evening. "I'm glad to see so much enthusiasm."

Both groups talked about the present and the future.

Elstad mentioned the school board's recent decision to extend the district's iPad program from seventh grade only to seventh through twelfth grades for the 2013-2014 school year.

He also talked about resident enrollment, which is projected to grow at a rate of roughly 2 percent a year for the next decade.

As a result, Elstad warned about the impact that growth could potentially have on the district's facilities, especially at the elementary school and the middle school level, if the right measures aren't taken.

The district will also need to find more room to house its bus fleet.

"We have a lot of young families moving into the school district," Elstad said.

He discussed the potential options for the future if the growth turns out to be as projected, options that ranged from ones with high downsides, such as increasing class sizes or cutting programs to what Elstad said would be his preference, adding facilities to the district.

He also talked about the vision for Byron Public Schools, including staying on the leading edge of technology and education, with the main focus of course on the students, on "developing young people who have a moral compass and who are good people."

Blair-Hoeft gave an overview of the city's massive Frontage Road project, which begins construction May 29 and will continue through Nov. 15.

It will also feature the town's first roundabout, which will be built on the Frontage Road at the intersection of 10th Avenue.

"It will be beautiful once it's done," she said.

She also talked about future city projects, including the need to renovate 13th Street and 20th Street and some wish list items, including a sports complex, complete with ball fields, and the possibility of a remodeled or brand new pool facility.

On the potential partnership side, the two entities brainstormed ways they could help each other.

School board chair Matt Prigge asked about a potential partnership with snow removal and lawn mower service to be as efficient as possible for both the schools and the city. Elstad inquired about the ball fields where the high school could potentially host tournaments, and both sides expressed interest in an indoor and outdoor pool that could benefit the community year round. Council member Bret Baumbach asked about a possible partnership with the schools when it comes to information technology services, an area where the district thrives.

"I think it was great discussion," Elstad said.

At the end of the brainstorming, mayor Ann Diercks reminded everyone that elaborate facilities don't just appear on their own.

"Please understand, all of this costs money," she said.

The meeting seemed to be the first step in a potential future collaboration of the school board and the city, two entities that clearly respect the other.

"I just want you to know how much you do for the city," Blair-Hoeft told the school board. "There are a lot of attractive things you already have in place," Elstad told the city.

Claremont Service

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