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District’s purchase of River Heights Professional Building to provide better learning environment for Community Learning Center and adult programs
Monday, Sept. 23, 2019 — Since 1997, the Community Learning Center (CLC) has been housed inside Woog Arena. Prior to that, the CLC, which was established in 1990, has been housed in various non-school locations in the South St. Paul (SSP) community. Throughout its nearly 30 year history, the CLC has operated in facilities leased by the district, as there has not been available and appropriate district-owned space for the school. But starting in Fall 2020, the CLC and other district adult learning programs will have a new place to call home thanks to a recently approved purchase agreement for the River Heights Professional Building at 710 19th Avenue North.
“The purchase of the River Heights Professional Building provides a more appropriate educational facility for the CLC” said SSP Superintendent Dave Webb. “Additionally, the new facility provides opportunities for the expansion of our Community Education programs, which will help us better serve all adult learners in South St. Paul.”
In addition to providing a more appropriate educational space for the current CLC program, which provides an alternative high school learning experience for students, Webb cited the growth of CLC offerings resulting in the need for more flexible learning spaces. The CLC operates a traditional school day program, as well as after school flex programs for students needing to make up credits and an online program. Webb also noted that purchasing the River Heights building allows the CLC to have safety and security measures that better align with district standards and other school sites. Currently, the CLC operates within a facility that sees high traffic from the general public.
“The district also anticipates utilizing space in the new facility for an expansion of the district’s Community Education adult learning programs, which are currently over capacity,” Webb said, “as well as opportunities for additional community learning services and partnerships.”
According to Aaron Bushberger, director of finance, the lease for purchase agreement of the River Heights Building allows the district to uphold its 2013 promise to the community of reducing rental costs in favor of district-owned facilities.
“For over 20 years, the district has rented space for the CLC at Woog Arena from the City of South St. Paul,” he said. “The 15 year, lease-for-purchase agreement for the River Heights Professional Building is a long-term financial investment that allows the district to own the building at the conclusion of the lease rather than renting space indefinitely.” Bushberger added that the agreement is similar to taking out a mortgage for a home versus renting. In the end, the district is “building equity and making a prudent financial investment on behalf of district taxpayers.”
The SSP School Board approved the $1.6 million purchase agreement at its meeting on Sept. 9. The agreement was finalized with the owners of the River Heights Professional Building on Sept. 20. With the agreement completed, district officials now move ahead with plans for redesigning the once medical clinic for educational purposes. The district plans for renovations to be completed for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.