What are the most important priorities for the St. Croix Central School District moving forward?

That list has been debated and discussed by the Community Task Force over the last couple of months but it is starting to narrow.

At a recent Task Force meeting last month, the Task Force, which included community members, staff members and administrators were asked that question.

At the top of the list was adding the 4K to the Elementary School and the expansion of the Career and Technology Education spaces at the high school.

“4K students, teachers and families deserve equitable experiences,” it was summarized. It was mentioned further with the 4K classrooms at Trinity Church in Hammond having limited access to resources and staffing.

A proposed drawing showed an 8,600 square foot addition to the elementary school with four 4K classrooms, a resource space and a 4K playground.

The CTE spaces have been described as undersized, limiting their ability for students to access those programs and causing safety hazards.

A proposed drawing shows an expanded designing and manufacturing section, which includes a wood, metal and auto shop and a graphics lab. There would also be an agriculture/greenhouse and culinary expansion which would include a commercial kitchen lab.

Next up is salary adjustment/teacher retention. This was one of the key pieces of the referendum which failed last spring.

“When comparing to neighboring districts, current salaries and benefits for teachers and staff are lower than average, especially as teachers and staff gain experience,” it was stated. Superintendent Tim WIdiker added it wouldn’t be a salary increase, but a salary adjustment.

Despite bigger districts bordering St. Croix Central such as New Richmond, Hudson and River Falls, that’s important, it was further stated, because that’s who SCC is competing against for staff.

After the salary adjustment, upgrading the HVAC equipment at all three buildings was next. It was stated during the meeting, the high school and middle school still have some original HVAC equipment which is needing replacement due to age and availability of parts.

Upgrading the District’s technology, which includes the Smart Boards also garnered votes.

The list was rounded out to include improvements to its athletic complex.

In an ideal world, Widiker explained, junior varsity football and varsity boys and girls soccer would be playing at the high school. That doesn’t always happen as the condition of the field has forced matches to be played elsewhere, including the middle school field.

Furthermore, he said, chunks of the track are falling apart and drainage issues are popping up throughout, which means, it’ not a matter of if but when, SCC won’t be able to host track meets or practice on it anymore.

While not the large scale plans Baldwin-Woodville did for its athletic complex, Widiker did envision its track and football field renovations for SCC, which included an artificial turf.

A preliminary cost for these projects came between $30-$32 million, according to Wold Architects and Engineers. What surprised most is if the cost came in at $30 million, it would have zero tax impact increase due to existing debt falling off.

“They were very happy with that,” Widiker stated.

The Task Force is scheduled to present their findings to the Board of Education Dec. 15.

“There’s been quite a bit of debate and discussion over the recommendations,” Widiker explained. “The questions and discussions have been outstanding. I think we’ve gotten a true representation of the school and the community.”

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