Three questions could go before Eastern Carver County School District voters on Nov. 5.
At its 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 24 meeting, at the District Education Center, 11 Peavey Road in Chaska, the School Board will vote whether to call for a special election, and what will be on the ballot.
According to district documents, one $111.675 million question includes the construction of a new elementary school; a new bus garage; and funds to cover deferred maintenance for old buildings.
In another question, voters will decide if the district can increase taxes an additional $5.5 million for its operating levy.
The third and final $4.4 million question would ask voters to renew the security and technology levy, according to board presentation materials by Director of Finance & Operations DeeDee Kahring.
The part of the work session covering the referendum was not video recorded due to technical difficulties, according to an email from Celi Haga, director of communications and community relations for Eastern Carver County Schools. There was no audio backup of the meeting.
The district is hopeful voters will pass the referendum, Kahring said in a phone interview.
“This community is a very supportive community towards the school district and we appreciated that,” she said. “They have shown how much they have supported the schools — in the end it’s for kids.”
If all the questions pass, the district projects a $36 monthly increase to taxes on a $350,000 home.
Here’s a look into what may come up.
1. Operating revenue
The first question of the referendum would ask voters to approve an increase to the operating levy by $5.6 million. The operating levy is currently short about $6 million due to state funding not keeping up with inflation, according to Kahring.
The motion asks to increase funding by $550 per student.
“With the deficit that we are experiencing to our budget, an operating referenda would be able to maintain the services in our schools,” Kahring said.
2. Elementary school
The second question on the ballot will ask voters to approve a $111,675,000 bond over 20 years. Those funds would be used for building improvements, an elementary school and a new bus garage.
A task force recommended the new elementary school be located on a six-acre parcel in Chaska, located east of Highway 212 and north of Chaska Boulevard.
In early 2017, the city of Chaska purchased 34 acres for $2.5 million for a new elementary school and a new park. The school later purchased six acres of the property for $470,831.
The city park, to be named Schimelpfenig Park, would be used by the school during the day and the city and sports associations in the evenings.
“The bond referendum is for a new elementary, as we continue to see building developments, it continues to put pressure on our buildings,” Kahring said. “We’re trying to make sure we meet the needs of the families and students living in our communities.”
Earlier this year, the Facility Task Force compiled a list of deferred maintenance totaling $139 million, and recommended $61.5 million be part of the bond referendum. The rest would be managed over 10 years using other funding sources with approval from the board.
Much of the work would be for district schools which are over 50 years old. They are Chaska Middle School East and West, La Academia, East Union Elementary and Chanhassen Elementary, according to Kahring.
If the referendum is passed, the district would build a new bus garage or relocate the garage, according to Kahring. If built, the location of the garage has not been determined yet.
3. SECURITY AND
This would replace a levy originally passed by voters in 2013, collecting $4.4 million per year for the next 10 years.
The funds would be used for cyber and physical security, technology infrastructure, devices for staff and students and professional learning development.
“The estimated total cost of the projects to be funded over that time period is approximately $43,857,170,” according to district documents. “The project to be funded has received a positive review and comment from the Commissioner of Education.”
Editor's note: This story was edited to note that the operating revenue levy would increase funding by $550 per student. An earlier statistic was taken from a school board document that was later updated by Eastern Carver County Schools. It also eliminates a number originally reported for the total raised by the referendum, which did not include funds raised over the duration of questions 1 and 3.