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District 309 considering another bond referendum

Will another bond referendum for school improvements come before the voters yet this year?

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Breaking the needs of district 309 into smaller funding pieces would mean less of a tax impact for homeowners, but the total cost of getting all of the district's priorities met would be higher than if a referendum passed. (Courtesy Park Rapids Area Schools)
lbagstad

The Park Rapids School Board held a special meeting Tuesday, May 25to explore what direction to go to meet the priorities set at their May 3 work session.

At that meeting, the top three priorities identified going forward were high school classrooms, grade reconfiguration and high school fine arts improvements.

Moving students won’t happen this fall

The consensus of the board at the May 25 meeting was that grade reconfiguration, which would involve moving early childhood programs in the Frank White Building to Century School and eighth graders to the high school, won’t be happening this fall.

Discussion concluded that after looking at current space and enrollment at the high school, there would not be enough available space to move seventh graders over.

Putting kids first

Board members agreed that whatever shape the funding comes from, it is important to keep the focus on putting kids first and build not just for the students of today but for the educational needs of the future.

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With state COVID-19 mandates being lifted, there was a brief discussion about how that will likely increase the number of students returning from homeschool options to classrooms as well.

Another referendum?

The board looked at using various funding “buckets” to complete pieces of the project at a lower cost to taxpayers, but concluded there would be less cost for the total project, including all of the priorities identified, with another referendum.

They also discussed when a third referendum could go before voters. The earliest option is November of this year, or it could wait until February, August or November of 2022.

Board members discussed whether to bring back the $60 million referendum that has failed twice or to come up with a smaller referendum that addresses the top priorities at a lower cost to property owners, to increase the chances of the bond passing.

The school board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, June 7 at the Frank White Education Center.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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