What is the construction timeline for the proposed solutions?
If the referendum is successful, project design would begin in November of 2019, with initial bidding taking place in April of 2020. Construction will commence Summer 2020, with the entire project being complete by end of calendar 2021.

Where do I go to vote for this referendum?
Please click here for more information.


Why two questions on the ballot?
Many community members have shared that they would appreciate a choice on the gymnasium addition.  The School Board and the Facility Task Force have identified the eleven solutions we are asking our tax payers to consider as needs that if addressed will help provide solutions for our District to issues that have existed for a very long time.


How many options did you start with and how many are being asked for in the referendum?
More than 100 solutions were identified for various issues.  All solutions are built into the District’s facility plan.  The District is asking tax payers to consider the referendum to help fund 11 of the solutions.
 

Where can I find Tax Impact Information?
You can view the most recent tax impact table at:  https://www.ehlers-inc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Tax-Impact-19-RC-22Y.pdf.

Ehler’s the District’s Financial Advisor has also created Tax Impact calculators.  You can find links to the calculators as well as information on how to use them at:  https://www.ehlers-inc.com/microsite/stcharles2019/.

If you are an Agricultural Land owner, Ehler’s will provide you with a customized report so that you can have an accurate representation of the tax impact the referendum will have on you.  You can submit your property information to Ehler’s website at https://www.ehlers-inc.com/microsite/stcharles2019/#contact or call Ehler’s at 1-800-552-1171 and ask to speak with a member of their Education Team.

If you have additional questions or need help finding information, contact Jeff Apse, Superintendent of Schools at 507-932-4420 or .

Was the community involved in the process?
Yes.  Involving the community in the development of our facility plan was and is a top priority.  Throughout the process, the District held multiple community input sessions to both share progress updates on our facility assessment and planning efforts with the public and to also provide community members who were not on the Task Force an opportunity to share their voice.  Administration met with District faculty, staff, and students in the early part of the 2018-2019 school year.  Meetings were also held with local booster clubs, the PTO, area farmers, and area businesses.  In the spring of 2019, the District also facilitated a survey of more than 625 community members to seek additional input on the solutions that were being explored.

What is Ag2School Tax Credit? 
This is a significant change, and an opportunity that did not exist for District ag land owners in 2016. 

This property tax credit originally took effect with property taxes payable in 2018.  For taxes payable in 2020, the credit reduces taxes for owners of agricultural property in an amount equivalent to 50% of the taxes attributable to school district debt service for all agricultural property, except for the house, garage, and one acre.  This credit is directly deducted from property taxes owed and applies to debt service levies for all types of existing and future bonds for construction and renovation projects. 

For taxes payable in 2018 and 2019, the credit was equivalent to 40%.  The State is phasing in an increase to the credit, it will be 55% for taxes payable in 2021, 60% for taxes payable in 2022, and for taxes payable 2023 and later the credit will be 70%.  The credit is paid through an open and standing appropriation, which means that no action by the Legislature is required each year for this credit to be paid from the state general fund.  The credit is automatically deducted on the tax statement and the 50% credit for taxes payable 2020 is included in the tax impact estimates provided by Ehlers.
 

Have we paid off the debt from the referendum passed in the early 2000’s?
No, our last bond payment on this debt is scheduled for February 1, 2022.  The debt for the referendum being proposed will be wrapped for the first couple of years limiting tax impact and setting the stage to replace the debt that will be expiring in February, 2022. 

We anticipate that the projects proposed will be finished by the end of calendar year 2021, meaning that as we finish those projects, we will also be prepping to make the last payment on the debt from the early 2000’s to prepare for paying the full principal and interest payment on the new debt.


How is this referendum different than either in 2016?

May 2016 Referendum
The total referendum was $18.32 million.  All solutions were built into one question.

Elementary School solutions included the addition of four new classrooms on the southwest corner of the building for kindergarten, remodeling the existing kindergarten classrooms into rooms for Early Childhood Family Education, and moving School Age Child Care to the main floor of the building, and making security improvements to the main entrance. 

High School solutions included a three station gymnasium with a walking track, updated showers in the locker rooms, remodeling the cafeteria serving area, adding a commons area to the lower level of the building that would have connect with the new gym and cafeteria, security improvements to the main entrance, remodel of the District Administrative Offices, remodeling of existing restrooms, and remodeling of existing science classrooms.

November 2016 Referendum

The total referendum was $12.4 million.  All solutions were built into one question.  The Elementary solutions remained the same as they were with the May 2016 referendum.  The High School solutions also remained the same except for the gymnasium and walking track.  That concept was reduced to a two station gymnasium without a walking track.

 

November 2019 Referendum

Some of the issues that the District was hoping to address in 2016 have not gone away, and there are other issues that were identified through our facility planning process.  While some of the issues are the same, the solutions packaged into the November 2019 referendum are different.

 

The total referendum is for $18.5 million.  Tax payers will have the option to vote on two questions.  The first question asks for $13,630,000.  The second question asks for an additional $4,870,000.  The second question includes solutions that relate to the addition of an auxiliary gym to the High School.  The passing of the second question is contingent on the passing of the first question.


Elementary solutions include the remodeling of the existing cafeteria and kitchen areas into three classrooms.  One which would be designated for preschool and Early Childhood programming, the other two which would be designated for kindergarten.  The plan also includes the addition of a new cafeteria and kitchen on the east side of the building.  The addition increases the size of the cafeteria by 50% compared to the existing cafeteria which will help provide more flexibility in scheduling lunch for Elementary students, help us better accommodate our preschool programming and School Age Child Care programming (as components of those programs now operate all day meaning we have more students in the building to provide breakfast and lunch for).  The larger cafeteria will also provide a more versatile space for multi-purpose recreation and school and community events and activities.

The High School Solutions built into the first question include adding four new science classrooms to the south east corner of the building, and remodeling the existing science classrooms into regular education classrooms.  We are in need of additional classroom space for student programming and when we looked into the cost associated with trying to remodel the existing science classrooms into 21st Century classrooms, we felt that it was more economical to build four new classrooms specifically set up for science, and convert the existing science classrooms into regular education rooms.  The High School solutions also include a new main entrance and office area with a secure vestibule that will require all guests to enter through the office before being cleared to enter the rest of the building, a commons/cafeteria on the main level of the building, a new kitchen on the main level of the building, a remodeled library media center, remodeled and updated Industrial Technology and Agriculture classrooms and expanded shops for those programs, the construction of a larger remote green house for our Ag program, remodeled bathrooms to provide better accessibility, and the remodeling of the existing cafeteria into a larger weight room.

The High School Solutions built into the second question include the addition of the previously mentioned auxiliary gym, a remodeling of space to create a lobby entrance for the gym, the addition of a fitness room (where the current stage is adjacent to the current wrestling room), the addition of changing rooms, a training room and public restrooms, and updates to the Boys and Girls locker rooms.
 

What was the process used to guide the decisions that have been made?
During the 2017-2018 school year, the School Board reflected on lessons learned from 2016.  After the two referendum attempts that year, the District was left with a number of facility issues and without a plan to address them.  The School Board recognized the importance of developing a working facility plan with solutions for issues, rough cost estimates for the solutions, and one that also explored an array of funding strategies to help fund the solutions.  The Board identified the following facility issues as District priorities that would need to be built into our working facility plan:

  • Space for Community Ed Programs (ECFE, School Readiness/Preschool, Early Childhood Special Education, and SACC);
  • Space for multi-purpose indoor recreation;
  • Space for student and community gatherings and events (a commons area);
  • Security improvements at both buildings;
  • Updates to multiple instructional areas (we have a number of areas that need to be improved and brought into the 21st Century:  Science, CTE, elective programming, and our high school media center);
  • Parking improvements to both campuses;
  • Food Service serving, prep, and storage areas;
  • Improvements to outdoor facility competition, practice, and spectator areas;
  • Access to green space for physical education, outdoor activities programs, and the potential future growth of our schools; and
  • Updates to a number of restrooms (both in our buildings and outside) to promote better accessibility.

The feedback received from community members after the 2016 referendums was clear, our community wanted to be involved in future facility discussions.  The Board recognized the importance of engaging and involving the community in the development of our facility plan.

In 2018, the School Board directed administration to put a request out for proposals to firms with the expertise in the development of facility improvement plans for schools.  After a competitive process, in May, 2018, the Board selected Nexus Solutions to assist the District.

Soon after selecting Nexus Solutions, Nexus Solutions engaged in a facility audit that focused on evaluating and assessing the District’s facility issues.  While our facilities were being assessed, the Board directed administration to form a task force of community members to explore solutions for the District’s facility issues.  A diverse group of twenty-seven community members volunteered to participate.

The task force was charged with providing community input to the School Board on the issues the Board identified, facility solutions being developed to address the issues, and funding options for the solutions.

As Nexus Solutions worked to complete their District facility assessment, our task force provided checks and balances for the solutions that were being developed. The task force helped hold District administration and School Board accountable to the community’s needs.  The Task Force met regularly over an eight-month span (October, 2018 through May, 2019). 

The Task Force met regularly over an eight-month span (October, 2018 through May, 2019).  The task force reviewed more than 100 possible facility solutions for the issues that were identified and an array of funding strategies including but not limited to a bond referendum that could be used to generate revenue to fund the solutions.

Throughout the process, the District also held multiple community input sessions to both share progress updates on the facility assessment and planning efforts with the public and to also provide community members who were not on the Task Force an opportunity to share their voice.  Administration met with District faculty, staff, and students in the early part of the 2018-2019 school year.  Meetings were also held with local booster clubs, the PTO, area farmers, and area businesses.  In the spring of 2019, the District also facilitated a survey of more than 625 community members, seeking input on the solutions that were being explored.

By May of 2019, the Task Force had helped the District map out a working facility plan that included 100+ solutions, rough cost estimates for solutions, and an array of funding strategies.  During the process, it was clear that there were some solutions that would require support from District tax payers.  Taking into consideration the input received from the community, the Task Force developed two recommendations for the School Board to consider.  The first recommendation was for the School Board to adopt the working facility plan that was developed to help guide future facility planning, and the second recommendation was to package 11 of the 100+ solutions into a bond referendum proposal for District taxpayers to consider.

In July, 2019, the School Board adopted both recommendations from the Task Force, and in August, 2019, the Board officially called the election for November 5th
 

Will elementary addition take away from playground area?
No, here is an illustration of the concept:


The addition will also help address some maintenance issues with the blacktop and steps on that side of the building, it will also allow us to keep from having trucks backing up into areas designated for recreational space.


What are the safety/security issues at the High School?
The high school will be equipped with a front and rear entrance, both with secure vestibules.  The front entrance will be adjacent to High School and District administrative offices, and guests who are visiting during school hours will be required to enter the vestibule and report directly to the office prior to receiving clearance to enter the rest of the building.

Adding a rear entrance with a secure vestibule allows us to reconfigure our bus drop off and pick up area, moving those to the back of the building to alleviate congestion in the front of the building from visitors who are trying to park in the front lot.

We do plan to make parking improvements at the High School by adding 45 additional stalls on the south side of the building which will provide easy main level access to the building for guests attending student activities.  If both questions pass, we anticipate a net gain of 30 parking stalls due to the potential loss of 15 stalls from the addition of a gym.  The parking improvements are not included in the referendum and will be paid for using other funding strategies that carry little to no additional tax impact.

 



 


 










 

Are we gaining gym space by passing these two questions?
The easy answer is yes.  We are gaining space.  Both questions will increase multi-purpose space that can be used for extra-curricular and community activities.

At the Elementary School, the current Elementary Cafeteria which also serves as multi-purpose space is around 2,400 square feet.  If Question 1 passes, the new addition cafeteria at the Elementary which will also be able to be used as multi-purpose space scales at around 3,800 square feet, which increases the size of the Elementary Cafeteria by around 50-60%.  The ceiling of the new cafeteria will also be higher.  We will be able to stage a full volleyball court in that cafeteria and the size of the new cafeteria and height of the ceiling will be more conducive to allowing for that activity and others.

At the high school, the current weight room scales at around 1,400 square feet.  If Question 1 passes, the current cafeteria will be remodeled into a new weight room, and the old weight room will be converted into storage space.  The new weight room will scale at around 3,050 square feet increasing the size of the high school weight room by around 118%.

The passing of Question 2 is contingent on Question 1 passing, so if Question 2 passes that means the increases in multi-purpose space described in the preceding two paragraphs become a reality.  Along with that added multi-purpose space, we would also add an additional two-station gymnasium on to the building.  The current gym addition illustrated in the concept scales at around 11,000 square feet with an additional 850 square feet in gym storage. The high school stage will also be remodeled and renovated into multi-purpose space.  The stage currently serves primarily as a place for storage.  Part of the stage renovation will include an addition connecting that area to the new gym.  Total added multi-purpose space of that renovation/addition is about 2,300 square feet.  To put things in perspective, that additon will provided about the same amount of space as the existing wrestling room.  

To sum it up, if Question 1 passes, we will be able to increase multi-purpose space in our facilities by around 3,050 square feet.  If both questions pass we will be able to increase multi-purpose space by around 16,350 square feet (not including the 850 square feet in gym storage).


Where do I find more information?
The District has created a web page with referendum information.  You can access it at:  www.scschools.net/referendum.

You can also find a significant amount of information on the process used on the Facility Task Force’s website at: https://www.scschools.net/page/4947.

My question was not answered how can I submit a question?
Please submit your question to Superintendent of Schools, Jeff Apse right here or call or email

507-932-4420
japse@schs.k12.mn.us