Board Updates

The GFW School Board held a regular meeting on Monday, November 20, 2023. 

Watch the meeting on YouTube:

Two new members have joined the board after the November election. Mark Turtle of Gibbon and George Grosam of Fairfax join the rest of the board and will continue to be an important connection between the school district and the community. 

Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Horton shared about the process to seek information and bring the community together around the new facility project as well as the ongoing work around assessments for student progress. Work is taking place to bring additional rigor and relevance to courses and provide professional development for staff. The district continues to review standards and aligning coursework and curriculum to those standards. 

School Reports

Principal Jennifer Thompson shared that the Elementary School is very busy this month. The Papa Murphy’s fundraiser raised $2,000 that will support the T-Bird Way programs. Real life heroes continue to be celebrated with both veterans and food shelf workers. The school will be collecting food donations and will soon be participating in other fundraising events. The students are getting ready for their winter concert on December 7. 

Principal Erin Jacobson shared about a variety of activities including FFA, Bowling teams, theater programs, dance, knowledge bowl, basketball and more. Students are also preparing for upcoming concerts. The Veterans Day program saw lots of students get involved and share their talents while celebrating veterans. Conferences provided an opportunity for teachers and families to connect on student progress. Staff are participating in professional development around curriculum and assessments to be able to provide the best possible education to students. 

Student representative Catherine Stoll shared about a variety of activities taking place at the high school and recognized student athletes who had great achievements during the fall season. The student council is preparing for upcoming activities and students are excited for the holidays.

Facility Presentation

Lynae Schoen of Wold Architects and Engineers presented to the board about the status of the facility projects. The team has been meeting with user groups including staff, teachers, and community members to discuss facility priorities and design. The facility will contain wings for elementary, middle, and high school as well as offices, early childhood, and other required spaces. The project is expected to be completed in August 2025 to be open for school in fall of 2025. 

The process has included community meetings, work with the site team, and collaboration with the GFW School Board and those who will spend the most time in the new facility. Priorities identified included having separate drop offs for each school group, outdoor play areas, and resources for events. 

Through the design process, the team researched the three towns and pulled inspiration from the history of Gibbon, Fairfax, and Winthrop as railway towns with a deep connection to agriculture. The building concept involves connecting corridors inspired by rail lines as well as common areas known as depots and other rooms seen as train stops. Wold shared about trying to involve natural light throughout the school as well as improving security and the ability to use as much as space as possible throughout the facility as teaching and learning spaces. 

The district continues to do its due diligence when it comes to this process and safety and security and has been in touch with other districts, industry experts, and the secret service about security systems and feedback on different design concepts including the use of glass throughout the school. 

The presentation showed concept drawings and models of a variety of spaces throughout the school with interior and exterior spaces. The team shared information about the different flexible spaces, furniture and color options, and the idea behind the design. Kraus-Anderson also shared updates on the project budget and estimates for the next steps. The district is working on budgeting for future fiscal years to be able to dedicate funds to other initiatives and the City of Gibbon is partnering with the district on infrastructure. The goal is to have a fiscally responsible project that maximizes the investment of the community during the bond election and takes advantage of other revenue sources and budgeting adjustments. The project is currently on budget and on schedule. 

Committee Reports

Board committees shared brief reports on the work they are doing with regular meetings taking place. 

Consent Agenda

The board approved the consent agenda. 

Resolutions and Action Items

The board approved a resolution to apply to join the Minnesota High School League Foundation for a grant to support student activities. 

The board approved a resolution to combine polling places.