City leaders seek different site for new Rochester middle school

Rochester city officials are raising concerns about the proposed site for a new middle school, and are asking school officials to consider a developer’s offer of donated land instead.

Incoming Rochester superintendent Michael Munoz
Rochester Superintendent Michael Munoz
Courtesy of Micheal Munoz

In a letter to Rochester Public Schools Superintendent Michael Munoz, city administrator Steve Rymer said that the district's request to annex 80 acres in southwest Rochester for a new middle school is problematic because the site lacks infrastructure.

Rymer said building there would contribute to urban sprawl.

In previous discussions, some City Council members and city residents have expressed concern about the site as well.

According to the letter, a developer offered Munoz donated land elsewhere for the new school. Rymer encouraged Munoz to consider this offer instead.

“It is our understanding this site is located within the City limits, has the necessary infrastructure...and is more densely developed with more opportunity and capacity for growth resulting in greater returns to our taxpayers,” Rymer wrote.

“As public stewards, it is our obligation to promote growth and development in a manner that is both fiscally responsible and consistent with the Comprehensive Plan that was designed by our residents and adopted by the City Council,” Rymer wrote.

The district hasn’t flatly rejected building on the donated land. However, in a written statement it says the proposed site presents several challenges, including size, topography and proximity to the district boundary and another school.

“Rochester Public Schools is committed to serving the needs of all of our students,” Munoz wrote, “including academic, social and emotional, health and safety needs. These considerations are at the core of every decision the District makes. This includes determining the physical locations of our schools.”

Rymer’s letter comes after voters last November approved a $180 million bonding referendum to expand the system.

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