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AlBrook voters endorse new school plan

A whopping 77 percent of AlBrook registered voters endorsed a bond referendum on Tuesday that will lead to the closure of their school. Of the 1,759 voters at the AlBrook consolidated polling place, 709 voted in favor of the plan, with 212 opposi...

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This preliminary rendering, drawn up by consulting team Architectural Resources and Johnson Controls, shows how the new ISD 2142 south site school will look. Students from Alborn, Brookston, Meadowlands and Cotton will consolidate their student populations when the new school is built.

A whopping 77 percent of AlBrook registered voters endorsed a bond referendum on Tuesday that will lead to the closure of their school. Of the 1,759 voters at the AlBrook consolidated polling place, 709 voted in favor of the plan, with 212 opposing it.

The related restructuring plan calls for AlBrook students, along with the student populations of Cotton and Meadowlands, to be consolidated into a new facility to be constructed on County Road 47 (Swan Lake Road). The current AlBrook School dates back to the 1970s.

"Even though a building isn't what teaches children," said AlBrook Principal Kristi Berlin, "I am so excited about the broader educational opportunities this new building plan will afford us."

Overall, voters in the St. Louis County Independent School District 2142 (of which AlBrook is a part) narrowly passed Tuesday's $78 million school bond referendum by an unofficial margin of 52 to 48 percent. The school board was set to canvas the final results at a Wednesday night meeting.

Of the district's seven existing facilities, three others besides AlBrook are slated to close under the restructuring plan, including the Cotton, Cook and Orr schools.

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According to School Superintendent Charles Rick, the district's next step will be to move ahead with final approval on designs for the two new school facilities and the remodeling and renovation of the Cherry, Babbitt and Tower-Soudan schools.

Rick said the district hopes to be able to begin construction of the new schools by May 2010, with an eye toward completion in time for the start of the September 2111 school year. He said he hopes plans and construction for the renovated sites won't be far behind.

"I am feeling very happy for the students and the district," commented Rick. "It's taken a long time for us to get to this point, and I am looking forward to having the involvement of the entire community as we move forward, whether they voted for or against the plan."

Three prior referendums for Independent School District 2142 failed, but those were for levies that would have supported the district's existing school operations.

If the referendum had failed, school district officials said the district would likely dissolve completely at some point further down the line, and students would likely have been sent to neighboring districts.

In all, 53 percent of registered voters in the district weighed in on Tuesday's election.

The referendum will raise the annual property tax payment on a $100,000 home by about $164.

Peter Passi of the Duluth News Tribune also contributed to this story.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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