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New member joins Solon Springs School Board, $9.7M referendum discussed

A survey has been sent to parents, staff and community members to gauge support for a $9.7 million building project.

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SOLON SPRINGS — The Solon Springs School Board appointed a new member and received an update on a possible spring building referendum at its Monday, Nov. 28 meeting.

Ben Kidder of Bennett, the lead pastor of The River — A Wesleyan Church, was appointed to fill the seat on the board that was formerly held by Angela Botner. Botner resigned from the board Oct. 31 due to time constraints.

A newcomer to the district, Kidder said he and his wife have been “blown away” by the education their children are receiving in Solon Springs.

“I’m just so grateful for the leadership that’s getting the job done,” Kidder said.

He acknowledged that things are pretty divisive culturally right now, and that the school board serves as the public square.

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“I think education opens doors,” said Kidder, a first-generation college graduate.

Kidder will serve the remainder of Botner’s three-year term, which ends in April. Both that seat and the one held by Clerk Ryan Smith will be on the April 4 ballot. The deadline to submit candidacy paperwork for a seat on the board is Jan. 3.

Solon Springs District Administrator Frank Helquist also gave school board members a rundown on a possible building referendum that could go in front of voters as early as this spring.

The district's facilities committee has been discussing a wide range of options over the past year and a half, Helquist said following the meeting. Surveys were recently sent to community members, staff and parents.

“The purpose of the survey is to gauge opinions on a $9.7 million project, as well as consideration for a larger one that would add $4.7 million,” Helquist said.

The deadline for returning the surveys is Dec. 14. Helquist said the board expects to review the results at its Dec. 19 meeting. After discussing the results, the facilities committee and school board will decide whether to move forward with a referendum. The deadline to put a referendum on the spring ballot is Jan. 24.

In other business, Helquist announced that he will be leaving the district June 30. The school board approved his resignation following a closed session discussion Monday. Helquist, who has served the district for more than six years, said the board will begin to outline the recruitment and selection process for a new district administrator at its Dec. 19 meeting.

This story was updated at 8:55 a.m. Dec. 1 with additional information on the results of a closed session the school board held. It was originally posted at 2 p.m. Nov. 29.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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