ST. CLOUD - Several St. Cloud residents held a protest outside the District 742 School Board meeting Thursday night to voice their concerns over district transparency.

The issue they protested against was the district's plan to purchase the old Minnesota School of Business building in Waite Park. One of the protest organizers, Melissa Hanzsek-Brill says this process has not been transparent to the community.

"Transparency is something I am having difficulty with. If you look at notes from the (school board) meeting last week, It just says possible purchase of a building in Waite Park. It doesn't say for DAO, it doesn't say to replace being at Tech, so nobody here tonight had the opportunity to knowingly go to the open community meeting, talk and say hey, I don't like that idea."

She adds she feels the district received votes in the 2016 referendum for a promise they did not end up keeping.

"Before the election, Willie Jett said the advisory board said the DOA was going in there so I think they got a lot of votes based off that, and the idea there'd still be a use for that building."

The school board decided to go ahead with the purchase of the old Minnesota School of Business building. The vote was 5-2 in favor.

Yes Votes:

  • Al Dahlgren
  • Bruce Hentges
  • Bruce Mohs
  • Jeff Pollreis
  • Jerry Von Korff

No Votes:

  • Shannon Haws
  • Monica Segura-Schwartz

The board's decision came after more than an hour of debate, and a failed motion to table the vote so that a public hearing could be organized before the district finalized it's decision.

Board Member Shannon Haws says the district was not straightforward with their intentions toward the current Tech building, even on the FAQs page for the 2016 referendum.

"Forty-percent of them, 6/15 are talking about 1 topic... what are we going to do with the Tech building, if you can say that we didn't mislead them by having 6 out of 15 questions talk about this [remodeling Tech] I don't think you're being honest with yourself."

Board Member Jerry Von Korff says inefficiency was one of the reasons they decided to go in a different direction than previously thought.

"Even if we move in their, a majority of that site is not going to have a use in our plans, so my vote in this plan [buying the school of business site] is not based on the belief we can walk away from the commitment to that site."

Board Chair Al Dahlgren says the money the district saves in the purchase of the Minnesota School of Business site could be used for other academic or athletic activities, including the Tech Gymnastics team.

The district plans to discuss more of a future for the old Tech building at their meeting in August.

Justin LaBounty WJON