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School Board votes 6-0 to accept Polifka offer

The Glencoe-Silver Lake School Board voted 6-0 Monday night to accept Ken Polifka’s proposal after receiving brief clarification to some of their concerns with his offer.
The School Board made its decision to accept Polifka’s offer in front of a room full of concerned citizens as well as city administration, including Mayor Randy Wilson, City Administrator Mark Larson and Assistant City Administrator Dan Ehrke.
City Council members Gary Ziemer, Milan Alexander, Allen Robeck, Cory Neid and John Schrupp also were present along with Planning Commissioners Ron Knop, Lynn Exsted and David Stark. Polifka also attended the meeting.
A few citizens spoke during the public input section of the meeting. Joe Schrempp, who lives right next to the Helen Baker property and attended last week’s Glencoe City Council meeting, said he feels he would have the most to lose with an apartment complex going up on the site, and would rather see single family homes instead. Schrempp said he’d like the School Board to vote for Polifka’s proposal.
Earl Dammann, Glencoe, spoke in favor of Polifka’s proposal. “You’re going to save $300,000. Do you know what $300,000 really is? I mean I know you guys have millions of dollars but $300,000 is a lot of my money, your money and everyone else’s money as well. It’s plain arithmetic. Take the $300,000 and let the contractor do what he wants with it … Our voters elected you to do School Board business, which is the education of our kids.”
Randall Thalmann, a former School Board member and a farmer who lives south of Plato, also addressed the board. “I’ve always felt that the school district, School Board, school management should spend their time to create the best school system as possible. Therefore, I don’t think the school district should get involved with any kind of investment system.”
Thalmann said there are risks to the school district if it starts on the path of investment business. “You’re setting a precedent. In the future, someone else might come along and they might have a great idea. They might come to the city and the school district and ask, ‘Can you invest some upfront money?’ and once you set the precedent, it will be harder to say no.”
He also voiced concern about where the $300,000 would come from, if the School Board voted for the city’s proposal. Superintendent Christopher Sonju responded that the funds would come from the capital operating fund.
“That puts farmers and businesses in a difficult position,” said Thalmann. “If it comes from capital operating then businesses and farmland pay two-thirds of the bill.”
Wilson addressed the School Board and the residents present at the meeting: “I’m here as mayor because we have someone who came to our door and said ‘We’d like to spend $10 million in Glencoe.’ It would be wrong of me and it would be wrong of the council not to follow up on that. If somebody comes up and says that, I will always try to figure out how we can accommodate that, if it’s appropriate.”
For more from the special School Board meeting, see the Oct. 25 print edition of The Chronicle.