Espe: Superintendent answers referendum questions

We are less than two weeks away from our referendum vote.  It has been an exciting adventure for us, with 50 community presentations, that have allowed our team to meet many of you. We have been able to discuss the Princeton School District’s needs that we will maximize our ability to provide outstanding educational opportunities for our students.
Some of the discussion at the community presentations has been related to just a few questions.  I would like to take this opportunity to answer and clarify some of those questions.
Why is this referendum occurring now?
• The estimated costs to repair South Elementary are $8,957,000.  These costs would not include removing the portables, which we currently pay $105,000 per year in rent.  This rent is something that we have been paying for through a lease levy tax.  Other factors, such as having a kitchen, cafeteria, gym and media center, would not be corrected.  Our second graders would still be in portables, which is a safety concern for our entire 2nd grade class.  Doing nothing is not an option available to the Board.
• Student safety is a major concern of the School Board.  With this bond referendum we would be able to create secure entrance vestibules that make sure that all visitors check in with each building administration office before entering the building.  Currently we have this in place at just North Elementary and Princeton Middle School.
• With a larger and modernized space for our technology and engineering classes we will be able to better prepare students for vocational careers.  Representatives from the City, the Mille Lacs County and the School District visited the campus of St. Cloud Technical and Community College and toured their technology and engineering facilities.  We are hopeful that we will be able to partner with them, which would provide additional concurrent credits for our classes in Construction Trades, Manufacturing Technology, and Health and Human Services.
• Although we are not able to meet all of the areas of focus, recommended by our Activities and Community Criteria Committee, the highest priorities were to provide accessible pool locker room facilities and additional gymnasium space for our students and community.  This would relieve pressure on Community Education and local youth programs so that students are not practicing until the late evening hours.  Students will be able to be a home earlier which will allow them to relax and get much needed rest.
What is the tax impact is this referendum is approved?
Passage of a yes vote would mean a tax increase. How much depends on what property is being taxed.  You can also use the Tax Calculatorat Referendum Central on the Princeton School District website.  In the tax calculator you can access your property values by following the “Instructions to view your property records.” link.
Average residential homestead market value for the Princeton area is $125,000.
What will happen to South Elementary, should the referendum be successful?
If the referendum is successful, we will first find out if there is a suitable buyer for the property.  Since this property is adjacent to our high school, we will need to find a buyer that would be a good neighbor for our students.  If we do not find a buyer, then we will raise the school.  The cost for this is in the budget of the referendum.
Thanks, as always, for your support!  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.