I would like to thank everyone who has already voted on the bond referendum for Park Rapids Area Schools. This is an important decision about the future of our district.

Our school facilities are aging, and many of our learning spaces were not designed to support today’s teaching methods. With enrollment expected to grow over the next 10 years, we need a long-term plan that addresses these challenges in a fiscally responsible way. That is why the school board, following the guidance of residents, put forward this referendum that would invest $59.8 million to renovate and expand our buildings.

While formulating this plan, we focused on the district’s most important needs while being mindful of the financial impact on our taxpayers. A letter published in the March 27 Enterprise by Mr. Glen Wolters incorrectly stated the tax impact. To clarify, the tax increase for a home valued at $200,000 would be $10 per month. This is half the amount that was cited in the letter.

We want to do all we can to ensure the public is informed about the needs driving this plan and its costs. I encourage everyone to visit PRoject309.org, where the district provides a tax calculator that allows residents to calculate the tax impact of the referendum on their specific properties.

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For months now, district leaders have worked hard to keep the public informed throughout the process that led to this referendum. We have frequently published columns in the Park Rapids Enterprise, regularly shared information via email and social media, distributed a districtwide mailer, met with community groups, and created a website to help inform voters. We will continue to engage the community through Election Day and long after.

Finally, some have asked about the potential impact of COVID relief funding on the district. The funding will certainly be welcome and will help us manage some of the extra costs the district has absorbed to respond to the pandemic. But such funding will be restricted in how it can be used and certainly won’t be available for our long term building needs.

If you have questions, please reach out to me. If you have not voted, visit PRoject309.org to learn more about the referendum and how to make sure your vote counts.