Austin board accepts resignations, hears of rec center; Leathers: saying goodbye ‘to some really good individuals retiring this year’

Published 8:42 am Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Austin School Board looked to the future and applauded the past, during its regular meeting Monday.

The board heard an update about the new recreation center, scheduled to open next year.

The board also approved retirement resignations for some long-time instructors, which prompted board member Don Leathers to note the district was saying goodbye “to some really good individuals retiring this year.”

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“We always have good individuals …” he qualified, but added there was quite a group of them this spring.

They include Brian Johnson, longtime Austin High School choral director; Marcia Burton, special education teacher at Ellis Middle School; Carol Davis, occupational therapist for the school district; Sara Gilberg, special education teacher at Austin High School; Brian Koser, Austin Learning Center instructor; and Melissa Voyce, first-grade teacher at Neveln Elementary School.

Vision 2020 recreation center committee member Jim Splinter presented an update to the board on plans for the $35-40 million project. Austin public schools, he said, has been a valuable partner in the planning process.

“We share your passion for serving the needs of the community,” Splinter said.

He offered schematic designs of the 105,000-square foot facility to be built and open for business by the end of 2019.

The new recreation center/YMCA will be American with Disabilities Act-compliant, with an emphasis on facilities and programs that support healthy living in a safe, affordable environment.

The committee is in the midst of a giving campaign, that will extend through May. A facility groundbreaking is anticipated for July, with a completion of the facility in late 2019.

Among the amenities planned are a full-perimenter walking and running track, and fitness studio/wellness floor whose cardio area will be twice the size of the current space.

There will be Child Watch care, school-age child care, and a multipurpose family gym that can be home to tennis, volleyball, pickleball and other sports, with areas that can be partitioned.

There will also be a reception area, event rental space, and indoor play area. There will also be a gymnastics center and aquatic space featuring a six-lane competition pool, leisure pool and warm water therapy pool.

A youth center will also be a valuable part of the plans, he said, “an excellent amenity to the community … a positive, supervised environment.”

A full accounting of the recreation center will be part of a public presentation on April 3, he said.

The vast portion of the center’s cost will be paid for through a $25 million donation from Hormel Foods; a $5 million donation from the Hormel Foundation, and $5-$10 million raised through the public campaign.