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School district resolves lawsuit

will move forward — immediately

Staff writer

USD 410 and Raymond Brandt have reached an agreement which will end a lawsuit filed by Brandt against the school district.

In a special board meeting Oct. 8, the board of education approved an agreement that will pay $27,500 in legal fees to Brandt.

According to a press release issued by superintendent Doug Huxman, with this payment Brandt agreed to dismiss an appeal and to “forever give up the right to make any claim or bring any lawsuit relating to the athletic facility or the issuance of bonds to fund a portion of the cost to construct and equip the athletic facility.”

The release further stated that although this agreement was not the board’s first choice, in board members’ opinions, but the correct choice as consideration was given to the long-term impact of moving ahead with the construction of an athletic facility on the Tabor College campus or continuing the lawsuit.

Brandt, a rural Hillsboro resident, filed a lawsuit June 4, 2007, a day before patrons of the school district went to the polls and approved a multimillion dollar school project which included improvements at the athletic field on the Tabor College campus.

With the delay in completing the project, increased project costs are estimated at 20 percent.

“If the USD 410 board had continued to fight the appeal, estimates indicated that additional cost increases could be as high as 12 percent or more in addition to $40,000-$50,000 in additional legal fees,” the press release stated.

An appeal was filed by Brandt Sept. 16, after Judge Steven Hornbaker’s Aug. 19 ruling that the lawsuit filed by Brandt held no merit.

“The board was confident that it would ultimately be successful on the appeal, but as the board considered the possibility of dealing with the lawsuit yet another year or more and the negative impact this undoubtedly would have on the construction of the new athletic facility, it was decided that exploring possible ways of ending this lawsuit would be in the best interest of the district as well as the college and community.”

The board had indicated it was in the best interest of the district to share the cost of building an athletic facility with Tabor College instead of the district and the college constructing separate facilities.

The bond issue that was passed in 2007 was for the college and the school district to share expenses, 50-50, for the project.

Also as a part of the bond issue were improvements and additions at Hillsboro High School, Hillsboro Middle School, and Hillsboro Elementary School, and a central office and transportation facility.

Improvements and additions have been completed and the school district recently purchased Midway Motors to be used as the central office and transportation facility.

Brandt had challenged the validity of the bond issue because he did not believe the interlocal agreement clearly stated the intentions of the project and was not in favor of public and private entities sharing a project.

By ending the lawsuit now, Tabor College and USD 410 will be able to move forward with the athletic facility.

“Although we know there will be those who will not agree with this decision, USD 410 board of education is convinced that it is in the best interest of both schools and the Hillsboro community,” said the press release.

Last modified Oct. 15, 2008

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