Rockford Board drafts letter of support for affordable apartment complex

Sand Companies, a developer working to construct workforce housing near the Rockford Mall, asked the Rockford School Board for a letter of support. This letter, along with others from area employers, will strengthen Sand’s application for funding from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.

Sand has little else to do but wait until the final decision from MN Housing in October. The Rockford City Council agreed to submit its own letter of support, along with commitments of land and waived fees to give Sand a higher chance of getting adequate funding. Many applications to MN Housing are submitted annually, resulting in a highly competitive environment.

If the project is not given workable funds, parties like the city will not face any financial setbacks. At their last meeting May 15, the council agreed on a 3-2 vote to create purchase agreements for the two parcels of land that would need to be sold to Sand. It was decided that a third needed parcel, owned privately, would be dealt with without city involvement. Lower involvement means lower odds of the application of getting accepted fully, but kept the city council from becoming too invested in the application.

Upon discussing the timeline of events between the council and Sand, the Board agreed to go forward with drafting a letter of support.

“More families are good for our district, right?” said Member Campbell. “Can’t see why we wouldn’t support it.”

Board member Chuck Tryon echoed Campbell: “I don’t think we have anything to lose.”

PEL CONTRACT REVISIT

The possibility for an apparel licensing agreement with big box retailers was quickly shot down at the June 19 Rockford School Board meeting.

Pel Industries, the company that produces local sports apparel for Target stores, recently tapped Rockford Area Schools to enter into a license agreement. In exchange for licensing privileges, the company would pay an eight percent royalty for all goods sold. Pel is the only approved supplies to produce high school apparel for Target.

When the topic was addressed at the May 15 meeting, Superintendent Paul Durand said he did not expect much to come of it, citing preliminary emails of distaste from board members like Amy Edwards and Lia Hall.

Edwards and Hall didn’t see the timeliness of the contract pleasing local retailers. Introducing more competition would be a “low blow,” Edwards said, and Hall reminded the board that they had just recently given a group of students in DECA the rights to produce apparel as well.

According to the materials provided by Pel Industries, a company from Arkansas, the contract is free, non-exclusive and automatically renews every year. If the board wanted to terminate the contract early, they would need to give Pel 90 days advance and Pel would use that period to sell their remaining apparel. Pel would also reserve the right to cancel.

Board member Ted Botten said the he still saw the agreement as a good marketing opportunity, but “it might be a good idea to wait.”

Hall added that maybe a similar license could be negotiated with local retailers to receive a certain percentage back.

Members Jessica Johnson and Kevin Campbell agreed to wait as well.

“I think there’s wisdom in some of the things you have done before I was here,” said Campbell. “I’ll default to that wisdom.”

Other

In other news, the board:

ACCEPTED the resignations of business teacher Deidra Van Lith, media specialist Dawn McCabe, and counselor Melissa Spicer, among others.

ACCEPTED the hire of Kristie Nelson as the new dance coach for the 2017-18 school year.

APPROVED the insurance renewals for property, liability, and workers compensation as recommended by Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC.

APPROVED membership to the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) for the 2017-18 school year.

APPROVED the Community Center and Galaxy Kids handbooks for the 2017-18 school year.

Went into CLOSED SESSION following the regular meeting to discuss Labor Negotiations Strategies and the Superintendent’s Evaluation.

The board will next meet Monday, July 24 at 6:30 in the Rockford High School Heritage Room.