School Board commits to selling land for recreational center

The Jamestown Public School Board committed to selling land to the potential community recreational center. In a unanimous vote, the School Board said it would strongly consider selling up to 4 acres to the Two Rivers Community Center, should suc...

The Jamestown Public School Board committed to selling land to the potential community recreational center.

In a unanimous vote, the School Board said it would strongly consider selling up to 4 acres to the Two Rivers Community Center, should such a center ever be built.

The commitment did not include a price or specific location -- save adjacent to Jamestown High School.

"I think this is exciting for the students and the community," said School Board member Gail Martin.

However, she said, many questions still required answers. What about parking, she asked, and a potential football field? What about other future plans? And who pays for the survey and other legal fees, she asked.


The commitment is a way of saying the board is interested, said Greg Allen, School Board member. The commitment doesn't require the board to sell the land. It could deny it down the road.

Board member Mindi Grieve agreed. The decision is preliminary and contingent upon other factors.

"We're by no means ready to build a building," she said.

Superintendent Bob Toso said the community recreational center committee still has many details to work out including what the building will offer. Some suggestions have included tennis courts, gymnastics space and other areas for volleyball, basketball and wrestling.

"This is kind of a first step," Toso said.

The district owns about 85 acres, so Two Rivers would not likely interfere with future plans, he said.

In other business, the board heard from one parent and educator who proposed forming a committee to study the feasibility of a gifted and talented program in the district.

Nici Flann said the district already has opportunities for students who struggle in school. What it doesn't have is opportunities for the students who excel. Those students need to be challenged, she said.


"I want to see us nurture a culture of achievement," Flann said.

Dave Saxberg, director of elementary education, also gave a presentation on gifted and talented programs as well as enrichment programs.

Gifted and talented programs serve some or a few students, he said. Those students are typically in the top 95th percentile on standardized tests. Participating in a gifted and talented program may mean out of class work, sometimes during class time. Those programs also require educators who are certified to teach gifted and talented students. JPS has one teacher who is certified. Districts in Fargo, West Fargo and Dickinson have gifted and talented programs. JPS used to have similar programs, but those ended about three years ago.

Enrichment programs, however, reach many or all students, Saxberg said. The programs in Minot and Grand Forks are considered enrichment. Enrichment services could be taught by a classroom teacher or a gifted and talented certified teacher. In many enrichment programs, students are not identified, accessed or pulled out of the classroom.

Martin said her daughter participated in a talented and gifted program the district offered in the past. She said it benefited her daughter.

"I think it's great that we are looking at this," Martin said.

Board member Tanya Ostlie, who also had a child who participated in the program, said she was interested in learning more about both enrichment and gifted and talented programs. When her child was in the program, some students would target the group of gifted and talented students and tease them for leaving.

The board voted unanimously to study the possibility of adding a program in Jamestown. The results of the study will likely be presented to the board in March.


Also, in a 5-4 vote, the board tabled a decision to purchase a $40,000 van for the district. The van would be used to haul athletic, student and other groups for out-of-town travel. Members Rosemary McDougall, Ostlie, Heidi Larson, Martin and Scott Walch voted in favor of tabling while Gary Peterson, Allen, Grieve and Roy Musland were opposed.

Currently, the district spends 55 cents a mile to reimburse for mileage and wear and tear. Over the life of the vehicle, the district would likely save about $20,000 to $30,000, Toso said.

Musland and Martin said they weren't comfortable purchasing a new vehicle with a $40,000 price tag.

Grieve and McDougall said the van would be more environmentally friendly than sending two or three vehicles to the same destination. Sometimes the district sends more than one vehicle out of town because the number of passengers couldn't fit into one vehicle.

In other business, the board received a list of identified buildings and grounds projects valued at about $2.5 million. Zerr Berg consultants will prioritize the list based on educational value and dollars it returns to the district. Some projects, like adding new windows, may decrease the district's heating and cooling bills.

The district has about $1.1 million to pay for the projects. The funding comes from stimulus dollars. Other funding may be available through other sources, Toso said.

The board will likely receive the prioritized list in December.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Jamestown Public School Board is Dec. 7.


Sun reporter Katie Ryan can be reached at 701-952-8454

or by e-mail at

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