Two-question special election addresses district’s facilities and equipment needs
ROSEMOUNT, Minn. – The District 196 School Board on Monday unanimously approved a resolution calling for a two-question bond referendum election on May 9, 2023, to address the district’s facilities and equipment needs for the next 10 years and beyond.
That was the recommendation of the administration and members of a Facilities and Equipment Steering Committee that conducted a comprehensive review of the district’s facilities and equipment needs over the last year and a half. The committee developed a facilities master plan and recommended the first phase of improvements to address needs in the areas of safety, security and supervision; space for growth, and providing students and families a more consistent experience in facilities across the district.
The proposed improvements were presented as preliminary recommendations at the Nov. 14 School Board meeting. They were then presented for public input during three nights of focus group dialogues in November, and online via a form on the district website.
Question 1 of the bond referendum special election seeks funding to make the following improvements.
- Safety, security and supervision improvements that would include new and additional security cameras at every site, a districtwide radio communication system, additional outdoor lighting at secondary school sites, replacement of fire alarm systems, and remodel/redesign of some student bathrooms and locker rooms at secondary schools for improved supervision and privacy.
- New elementary school to provide relief for crowding at elementary schools in the southeast part of the district, where most of the current and future housing growth will occur. The district owns land in Rosemount that was purchased as a future school site as part of the 2015 bond referendum.
- New Rosemount Middle School built at a different site to provide a more consistent experience and accommodate future growth. Rosemount Middle is the oldest building in the district and is operating over capacity, with crowded hallways and inadequate core facilities.
- Repurpose existing Rosemount Middle School for multiple other possible uses that would be determined later.
- Land purchase for new Rosemount Middle School and future use.
- Renovated Rosemount High School, completing the project started with the 2015 bond referendum, to provide a more consistent student experience, and a 300-student addition to accommodate future growth.
- Additional science labs and upgrades at three middle schools and all four comprehensive high schools to provide a consistent number and size of science labs at schools across each level. Some schools currently use regular classrooms as science labs, without water, due to a lack of labs or having labs that are smaller than standard.
- Addition to Scott Highlands Middle School to provide relief for current overcrowding and space for growth in the southeast part of the district.
- Addition to Dakota Ridge School to provide relief for crowding and space for growth in this K-12 special education school, and renovation of the Transition Plus building to provide appropriate facilities to meet the needs of students in this special education program for ages 18-21.
- Performance space improvements at secondary schools to provide a more consistent experience.
- Furniture replacement to continue the project started with the 2015 bond referendum to provide flexible learning spaces at all schools.
Question 2 of the bond referendum special election seeks funding to add activity center space at each of the four comprehensive high schools to provide a more consistent experience and additional space needed for enrollment growth. Thirty of the 53 school districts in the Twin Cities metro area (57%) have at least one activity center, which typically include multiple courts or stations that serve a variety of activities and users. Students use the space for curricular physical education classes during the school day and cocurricular activities after school. Community groups use activity centers at other times.
Superintendent Mary Kreger said Question 2 was added to the recommendation based on input received at the focus group meetings and online. She said there was support to move high school activity centers from phase II to phase I of the master plan, as a second question in the May 9 bond referendum. Approval of Question 2 is contingent on approval of Question 1.
Kreger said the input received at the meetings and online showed support for the recommended improvements and the overall plan. In the online form, 82% of the nearly 1,600 respondents answered “Yes” to the question, “Would you support the recommendations outlined in the presentation for the district’s facility needs for the next 10 years?” In a scientific community survey conducted for the district in September, each of the phase I improvements tested was supported by more than 60% of all respondents. The addition of activity center space at the high schools was also supported by 68% of respondents.
Improvements in Question 1 cost an estimated $374 million total, with a tax impact of $11.50 on the average-value home in District 196, which is currently $400,000. Improvements in Question 2 cost an estimated $119 million total, with a tax impact of $7 on the average-value home.
With the board’s approval of the resolution Jan. 9, the district will begin implementing plans to conduct the election and will share additional information about the bond referendum questions leading up to the May 9, 2023 special election.