Madison Central officials approved several spending and contract items on Monday that will help the school district acquire the former Golden Living property.

Madison School Board members added several items to their final meeting agenda for the 2019-20 school year that dealt with the purchase of the former nursing home land located south of the middle-high school complex.

The board members added to the Madison Central School District's financial transactions a $600,000 payment for the property and a $148,000 payment for the demolition conducted on the land located on the south side of N. 9th St.

Tom Farrell, school board president, asked the board members to add a resolution to the meeting agenda that gave him and Superintendent Joel Jorgenson the authority to purchase the land. The resolution gives Farrell and Jorgenson the authority " execute any and all documents necessary to effectuate the purchase of certain property from Education Heights, LLC," and then continues on to give the legal description of the lot.

The wording of the document indicates that the financial transaction between the school district and Education Heights would take place sometime this month.

In July 2019, Madison Central made an initial down-payment of $150,000 for the land and another down-payment of $50,000 for the demolition. The school district provided the money for the initial land down-payment from its capital-outlay fund balance and the remaining payment will come from the district's capital-outlay budget.

Jorgenson said in June that Madison school officials had not made any plans, as of yet, for the use of the property.

St. Thomas agreement

The school board approved a food-vendor contract that Madison Central officials will send to St. Thomas School so the public school cafeteria staff can provide meals to the private school which is also located in Madison.

Mitchell Brooks, the public school district's business manager, told the school board members that Madison Central planned to operate its own cafeteria service in 2020-21. The school district had "contracted out" the administration of the cafeteria service during the last several years. Madison Central has also previously worked with St. Thomas School to provide meals to St. Thomas students.

In reviewing the proposed food prices for St. Thomas, Brooks said the meals would cost $1.40 each and Madison Central would provide milk at 45 cents per carton. The school district would also charge St. Thomas School $5 per day for delivering the meals.

2020 MHS graduation

During the school administrators' reports, Jorgenson said school officials were making plans to hold an in-person graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 on July 26 if ongoing case rates related to the COVID-19 pandemic allowed public gatherings. Jorgenson noted that Madison had a recent upsurge in active coronavirus cases, growing from a couple of cases to 14 active COVID-19 cases during the last week.

According to Jorgenson, organizers are planning to hold the ceremony at Trojan Field, Dakota State University's football field, with the idea that an outdoor setting would provide more safety to participants.

Jorgenson said the organizers and participants would need to "be realistic," monitoring the local coronavirus caseload information and weather on that Sunday.

He had received word from about 14 MHS graduates that they would not attend -- for various reasons -- and about 25 seniors had not responded with their plans to attend or not attend. With 97 graduates in the class of 2020, that means about 58 graduates had expressed an interest, so far, in attending the ceremony.

School board members

After finishing the business related to the 2019-20 school year, the school board opened a second meeting to conduct business for the 2020-21 school year. The second meeting started with the swearing-in of Rob Honomichl and Richard Avery to new three-year terms on the school board.

Honomichl, an incumbent, won a new term in the June 2 election. Avery, a newcomer, won election to fill an open board seat.

At the end of the first meeting, the board members thanked outgoing board member Shawn Miller for his nine years of service to the school district.

At the start of the second meeting, Farrell was elected to a new, one-year term as school board president, and Lori Schultz was elected vice president.