Can they save the school? | News, Sports, Jobs




Photo of Deb Gau Christa Peterson reviewed the notes on the estimated cost of updating part of the old Russell-Tyler-Russell Middle School. Peterson is one of a group of residents in the Russell area who are trying to see if there is support to keep the school gymnasium for the community, instead of tearing it down. With the opening of a new K-12 school in Tyler this fall, the existing school buildings in Russell, Tyler and Ruthton are expected to be demolished.

RUSSELL – With students from Russell-Tyler-Ruthton heading to a new K-12 school in Tyler this fall, the existing school building in Russell may be on the way to demolition. But a group of local residents are trying to find out if there is enough community support to save some of it.

“All now, try to understand how much it will cost”, to modernize the school’s gymnasium and support its maintenance, said Christa Peterson.

Peterson is one of a group of Russell residents who have surveyed community members over the past month or so. The group hopes that at least the gymnasium and school hall can be kept for community use. But they will have to be able to show that the project can support itself, with pledges of funding and volunteer time.

The group’s goal is to collect survey responses by July 4, before the next regular Russell City Council meeting on July 6. They work on a short period of time – the school building is due to be demolished in November, said Audie, a member of the Sanderson Group.

Construction of a new $ 35 million school for RTR is nearing completion in Tyler, and the old RTR buildings in Russell, Tyler and Ruthton are expected to be demolished.

Like many schools in southwestern Minnesota, the Russell School building has been expanded over the years. The oldest part of the building dates from 1919, while the gymnasium is part of a later addition.

“Our main goal is to save the gymnasium. If we can raise enough funds, we would like to get the dining rooms and the kitchen ”, said Marian Livingston, a member of the group.

Peterson said one option could be for Russell to follow Ralco’s lead, when he preserved the old Balaton School gymnasium. Members of the Russell community could potentially pay a monthly membership fee to use the gym, Peterson said.

However, if part of Russell’s school building were saved, it would need a new heating and cooling system, as well as continued funding for utilities, maintenance and other expenses. Sanderson said it would take around $ 75,000 to $ 125,000 to make these updates. Utilities for the building would also cost between $ 1,500 and $ 2,000 per month.

That’s where the polls came in, Peterson said. Group members sent out forms through the Russell Community Newsletter to assess residents’ support in saving the Russell School. The forms also asked people for their ideas on how to make the gym self-sufficient, the types of programs they would support in the gym, and if they would be interested in volunteering or pledging funds for building support.

Peterson said the group plans to meet on Monday to assess the responses they will receive, ahead of the Russell city council meeting.

Livingston and Peterson said keeping part of the school would mean saving additional resources for Russell residents and families.

“The community of Russell has changed enormously over the past few years”, said Livingston. Now there are a good number of young families and children living in the city, she said.

“We have an excellent base of young parents”, said Peterson. Keeping the gym going will provide Russell with options for recreation and fitness, Livingston and Peterson said.

Residents of the Russell area are encouraged to deliver surveys in the lobby of the First Independent Bank or drop off overnight in Russell, or scan and email them to [email protected] Peterson said people can also contact her at [email protected] for more information.

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