Central Elementary School has a new tenant.
The Winona Area Public Schools board approved an agreement this week to locate the district's Miller Mentoring program in the former elementary building for at least the next three years.
Board Chairman Greg Fellman described the agreement as "a no-brainer."
"This is a fantastic program," he said.
Miller Mentoring is a school-based mentoring program serving Winona Area Public School's fifth- through 12th-grade students. It provides one-on-one mentorships to students, along with after-school homework help. About 90 students and mentors are involved in the program, currently housed at the Winona Middle School and Winona Senior High School.
The agreement is for three years and includes an option for a two-year extension. The district will receive $100,000 each year for use of the building's second floor. The program will have access to the school gym, and the media center and computer lab after 2 p.m. Miller Mentoring can provide air conditioning for the building at its expense, with specifications subject to district approval.
Central will house the middle school program, tutoring and parent resources, program director Cindy Althoff said. The high school program will continue at WSHS.
The district will provide after-school bus transportation to Central. Participants and parents will be responsible for transportation home.
While RTP provides funding for the mentoring program, the program is staffed and administered by the Winona school district.
Althoff said the program has outgrown the space available at the Winona Middle School. Relocating to Central would allow the program to expand services for middle-school students and further extend services to fourth-graders. A summer program could also be offered.
Althoff said she hopes the move to Central will be completed by mid-January.
"It's so important to have a stable, consistent space for the kids," Althoff said. "This truly is an opportunity to engage parents, help more students, and, in the long run, help the whole community."