On Nov. 5, local voters will be asked to approve a $39.5 million Jordan Public Schools referendum that consists of three proposals.
For the past few weeks, the Jordan Independent has explored each question that will appear on the ballot.
In the final part of the series, the Independent will look at the third question on the ballot, which reads:
“If School District Question 1 and School District Question 2 are approved, shall the board of Independent School District No. 717 (Jordan), Minnesota be authorized to issue general obligation school building bonds in an aggregate amount not to exceed $15,000,000 for acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including but not limited to, remodeling and extension of the auditorium at Jordan High School and construction of a multipurpose indoor activity facility?”
The first question on the November ballot will ask voters to raise the per-student operational levy by $300. The second question will ask voters to approve a $24.5 million bond that will fund four large projects: the construction of an early learning services building, elementary school renovations, a high school remodel and improved parking and drives.
Both questions need to pass in order to make funding for the projects included in question three viable.
The third question will ask voters to approve a $15 million bond that will fund two large projects: the expansion and improvement of the high school auditorium and the construction of a multipurpose field house on the “south campus.”
The first project stems from a severe lack of seating space in the high school auditorium, which hosts assemblies, plays, concerts and ceremonies. The proposed auditorium renovation would add 200 seats, increasing capacity from 450 to 650, and update lighting and sound technology.
Superintendent Matt Helgerson said the school needs special permission from the fire marshal to bring in additional seating for popular annual events like the spring pops concert.
“I think people understand that our current auditorium was built too small for today’s population,” Helgerson said. “We’ve had some student assemblies already to start the year and we’ve had to bring in a whole bunch of extra chairs.”
The district has tried to mitigate the issue for some time by increasing the number of shows and introducing preferred arrival times for parents and students of different grade levels to keep crowd sizes from swelling.
“That’s something common throughout our district now as we’ve gotten bigger. Adding a couple hundred seats would certainly help that.”
Helgerson said if the referendum fails the problem won’t go away and the district will likely use deferred maintenance funds to pay for the renovations.
“One way or another we have to address it,” he said.
District officials envision the second project, a multipurpose field house, to work as an extension of both the Community Education and Recreation Center’s model and the district’s activities programming. If approved, the field house would be built on the “south campus,” a parcel of district-owned land on along Highway 21 that is also the proposed site of a new early learning services building — the approval for which is included in Question 2.
The large indoor facility would include a track, turf field, golf and archery simulator bays and other amenities aimed at serving the entire community. Helgerson said the simulator bays shouldn’t be confused with arcade games.
“You actually shoot an arrow with your bow, and you hit a golf ball with your actually golf clubs, into this giant screen that is designed for this,” he said.
The field and track would be designed to accommodate sports like soccer, lacrosse, baseball, softball, track and field and football.
“It is certainly not just a space for our football program, I’ve heard that,” Helgerson said. “It’s a space for all of our athletic programs with the exception of basketball, and potential new ones.”
District officials are interested in developing partnerships and rental agreements with other school districts to potentially give students who want to play currently unavailable activities, like lacrosse and hockey, a partner. An indoor multipurpose facility, Helgerson said, could be used to attract other districts into pursuing cooperative sports agreements.
Helgerson said the proposed use would be very similar to CERC, where the facility is open to the public during certain hours and restricted to student use at other times.
The average Jordan home, valued at $250,000, currently contributes $1,049 in taxes to fund the school district’s operating authority and building bonds.
If Questions 1 and 2 are approved, that average will rise to about $1,385 annually — marking a $335.28 annual increase for the average Jordan home, or $27.94 per month. A $125,000 home would see a $151 annual increase, while a home valued at $550,000 would see an annual increase of $777.
If all three referendum measures are approved by voters, the average will rise to $1,505 annually — marking a $456 annual increase for the average Jordan home, or about $38 per month. A $125,000 home would see a $201 annual increase, while a home valued at $550,000 would see an annual increase of $1,064.
For a more detailed look at the referendum funding, see the first and second articles in this series at jordannews.com.
The school district will host a fifth and final informational meeting ahead of the Nov. 5 vote. The community conversation will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 21 at Jordan Elementary School.
More information on the referendum can be found at www.jordan.k12.mn.us/ref2019, including a tax calculator that allows residents to calculate their individual tax impact by entering their parcel ID.