It is regrettable that Mr. Mortwedt did not seek additional sources of information before publishing his article, ‘When a City Buys a School, Caveat Emptor’. He could have easily found answers to the questions posed in the article, by simply reaching out to any Marine on St. Croix City Council member, or to a member of the City Council Committee tasked in 2015 with studying the advisability of a possible purchase of the Marine Elementary School building by the City, or to a Board member of River Grove School.
Country Messenger readers will recall the December, 2016 community meeting at the Marine Village Hall, where the School Property Committee shared its findings and where citizens voiced strong support for the recommendation that the City approach the Stillwater Area School District regarding a purchase of the school property. The Committee and Council have continued to share information on progress toward this possible purchase at regular, public city council meetings. The Council and Committee have used experts within the community to assess the current and future maintenance needs of the property and have determined its assessed value, as part of their due diligence process.
Our community has supported the opening and successful operation of River Grove Charter School. The good news is families at the school are thrilled with the education their children are receiving. The school is financially healthy, which could have easily been confirmed through contact with the school’s Treasurer or by reaching out to the school’s financial consultant (The Anton Group). As a result of its success, the school is at near capacity and the Board, acting responsibly, is considering options for additional space. As Mr. Mortwedt probably knows and Mr. Kearney certainly knows, State statute prevents a charter school from owning any building until they have been operational for at least six years. Marine City Council members and citizens have repeatedly noted the importance of having a local elementary school, hence the on-going discussions between the River Grove Board and the Committee regarding a possible lease of the Marine School building, if the building was purchased.
As members of the School Property Committee and River Grove School Board, we can assure citizens and fellow tax payers that we take any conflict of interest issues seriously and follow best practices in this and all areas. To casually suggest otherwise, as the article implied, is irresponsible journalism.
Marine on St Croix Planning Commissioner and School Property
River Grove Board Member