Frequently Asked Questions
WHY IS THE SCHOOL DISTRICT CONSIDERING A FACILITIES PLAN?
As a small school system that provides big opportunities, we work hard to use space wisely. However, we have reached the point where new investments are needed to sustain success.
WHAT DOES THIS PLAN DO?
This plan repairs and upgrades our school buildings to meet the needs identified by experts, district staff and community members. Voters will decide on February 12 whether to make this investment.
WHO CAME UP WITH THIS PLAN?
The District spent over 10 months evaluating our schools’ needs and receiving community input to help refine the plan. Thoughtful consideration has been put into correctly identifying the needs in our buildings. This includes:
Five (5) District listening sessions
Eight (8) community listening sessions
Online survey: 234 responses
District financial review
Detailed facility assessment
Educational adequacy assessment
These assessments and listening sessions aided the District in identifying and prioritizing facility and educational needs. The proposed referendum improvements have been developed to address the most critical and urgent needs within the district’s facilities.
WHAT WILL THIS PLAN COST?
The school bond referendum asks voters to approve a $22,700,000 bond referendum to fund the proposed improvements and additions to our school buildings.
WHAT IS A BOND REFERENDUM?
In Minnesota, voters decide whether school districts can increase property taxes to pay for the bonds used for renovating, constructing and equipping school buildings. Like a loan on a car or mortgage on a house, the bonds need to be repaid over time plus interest.
WHY ARE WE MAKING THESE IMPROVEMENTS NOW?
There has been no major investment in our core educational facilities since 1976. Consequently, our facilities are not up to today’s standards for safety, classroom space, education or maintenance. As a small school system that provides big opportunities, Dawson-Boyd works hard to use space wisely. However, we have reached the point where new investments are needed to sustain success.
HOW DOES THIS PLAN BENEFIT OUR LOCAL TAXPAYERS THAT DON’T HAVE STUDENTS IN SCHOOL?
Dawson-Boyd schools continue to thrive, adding to the quality of life for residents and making our communities stronger. This plan seeks to improve both education for our students and community uses of our school. If passed, this plan would build an addition to the Community Center. The new addition will include an upgraded community fitness room, weight room, wrestling/multipurpose room, and lobby area with open storage and benches.
AREN’T OUR SCHOOLS ALREADY SAFE AND SECURE?
Currently our buildings do not meet modern standards for school security. Visitors to our buildings are not directed to a central, secure entrance during the school day. This would allow staff to have direct supervision over who is in the building. The District wants our schools to be used by the community, but during the school day we want students protected.
IS THE SCHOOL BUYING PROPERTY FOR THE NEW ADDITIONS?
Yes, there will be property purchased east of the Gym. The District is currently working with the property owner to ensure the proper steps can be taken if the referendum passes.
WHY AREN’T WE BUILDING NEW SCHOOLS?
The District explored other potential sites and currently, no suitable alternative facilities are available within the district boundaries or in adjacent districts. The District also explored the costs associated with having separate school buildings, including not having shared staff between schools and other related expenses.
WHY DIDN’T THE DISTRICT MAINTAIN THE BUILDINGS?
Our buildings have served us well and have been well maintained, given their age. However, our regular maintenance budget is inadequate to keep up with the demands of our old buildings. In addition, the safety needs for schools are changing, and we need to invest in better security.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE REFERENDUM FAILS?
If the referendum fails, Dawson-Boyd Public Schools will have to find different ways to address the facility issues. The school board has concluded that our needs are too great to ignore. For the next year or two, we will continue to spend money out of our operating budget each year for repairs and maintenance. In the long term, any solution will have a tax impact, and a partial solution will require additional spending soon.
WOULD CONSTRUCTION BE HANDLED LOCALLY?
By law, any school project with a value greater than $100,000 must be bid and awarded to the lowest bidder. While local preference is not permitted, companies from this region will be notified and able to bid on the project work or obtain subcontracts for work.
WHY IS ONLY ONE OPTION BEING PRESENTED TO THE COMMUNITY?
State law does not permit different facility options to be presented to voters at the same time.
WHY ARE YOU HAVING THIS ELECTION IN FEBRUARY?
A February election will allow us to take advantage of a full design and construction season in 2019.
DOES THE STATE PROVIDE MATCHING FUNDS FOR DEBT PAYMENTS FOR US?
Farmers will benefit from the Ag2School program, which reduces the payments on school bonds from owners of farmland by 40 percent.
I HEARD THE COMMUNITY CENTER IS PART OF THIS PLAN…IS THAT TRUE?
Yes, the current Community Center will be renovated to better serve the community members that use the facilities. An addition will be added to the east end of the building that will contain a community fitness/weights/wrestling/multipurpose space. To accommodate the new addition and access corridor, the existing Community Center lobby restrooms will be remodeled to maintain necessary fixture counts and accessibility.
HOW WOULD THE CONSTRUCTION AND REMODELING PROJECT BE MANAGED?
The School District will retain architect and construction manager services to assist with this project.
HOW WILL THIS PLAN HELP OUR STUDENTS PERFORM BETTER IN THE REAL WORLD AFTER GRADUATION?
Healthier and safer schools that are designed for modern teaching and curriculum will help all students. Educational standards change over time, and we must adapt our schools to meet those standards.
Upgrading our school buildings to meet today’s educational demands will help improve the education we offer all students, including:
Better preparing college-bound students.
Providing career-oriented opportunities for those that will enter the job market shortly after graduation.
Creating life-long learners that will be productive members of our community.
WON’T OUR SPACE NEEDS DECREASE AS OUR ENROLLMENT SHRINKS?
Our schools continue to exceed projections for student enrollment. In the past ten years our schools have seen 17 percent growth.
District growth over the next 10 years is projected at 3 percent, making us one of a small number of Minnesota school districts that has experienced 20 years of enrollment growth.
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE VOTE “NO?”
Our schools will continue to age, and we will use maintenance dollars to address a few problems each year. But those funds can’t keep up with the demands of our old buildings, and those funds are best used for classroom education rather than patching issues that should receive a permanent fix.
Stevens Elementary was built in 1963 with an addition in 1988 and the Junior and Senior High School was built in 1976. No major investments have been made in our core educational facilities since this time. Professional engineers assessed both buildings to determine whether they meet standards for education, safety, security and building operations. In 18 categories defined by the Minnesota Department of Education as important for educational success, both buildings were below standard in more than half of the criteria.
WON’T THE HIGHER TAXES HURT OUR LOCAL BUSINESS OWNERS?
Residents need to determine whether the benefits of this plan justify the costs – that’s why we are holding a referendum. Facility infrastructure projects and construction projects are less expensive when done at the same time than when done piecemeal over a number of years. Just like remodeling your home, doing all these projects together saves the district money.
CAN’T WE WAIT A FEW MORE YEARS?
We can. However, the plan will continue to get more expensive as our needs grow, and we will continue to spend money each year on maintenance projects, using operating dollars that could be kept in classrooms.
IS THERE A SAMPLE BALLOT?
WHERE, WHEN, AND HOW CAN I VOTE?
The bond referendum will be on the ballot for the primary election on Tuesday, February 12th, 2019. Dawson City Hall is the combined early voting place for all district residents.
Updated December 18, 2018