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Search is on for new school site

Following the Hudson Board of Education vote to drop the St. Croix Meadows property as a possible site for a new 10-12 high school, the hunt is on for a new location.

School board president Jamie Johnson told the Star-Observer on Monday that there is land out there that the board and district administration will be considering. “There is no perfect parcel (of land) but we are ready to move forward.”

But time is of the essence if the board is going to stay on its timetable which calls for a referendum on a new secondary school space on the November ballot. That would mean that the board would have to the new site identified by the end of August.

“We will be working aggressively to secure the right property but it remains to be seen if we can meet that deadline,” said Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten.

Neither Johnson nor the superintendent mentioned any specific properties under consideration.

Johnson said regardless of when a referendum happens, “voters will know where it will be built, what will be built and what it will cost.”

Johnson added that the board has committed to building a new three-year, 10-12, high school and to a substantial remodel of Hudson High School to convert it to an 8-9 building.

Dog track revisited

Johnson said the school board decided to revisit the dog track property after the district was advised that there was new interest in commercial development of some of the property. “We pursued the idea to see if we could find a balance that would allow us to utilize the infrastructure on that site to save the taxpayers some money.”

The latest proposal called for 35 acres of the property to be set aside for development. The original proposal back in fall 2012 called for 10 acres to be set aside for the city or for development.

With the new plan, the district had the property’s wetland evaluated and the buildable property for the school came up short of the 65 acres the district has set as a minimum for a new school site. The wetland would not have been an issue in the original proposal but the city said no to rezoning the property for school use at that time.

Johnson said the size of the parcel the district wants reflects room for growth, something district residents said they wanted in any plan for a new secondary school.

Johnson said the school board has an interest in maintaining a strong tax base in the community, “but we also need to do what is necessary to have a strong school district.”

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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