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Continued: Debate over second high school grows louder in Shakopee

  • Article by: ERIN ADLER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 25, 2014 - 2:01 PM

The $89 million proposal also includes $3 million in security upgrades, $3 million in maintenance updates and $5 million toward improving fields and outdoor spaces. If passed, the measures will add $155 a year to the taxes on an average-priced home in the district, valued about $213,000.

A second high school would be built a mile from the current school, with the same design. Students and teachers could even take buses back and forth for classes, Thompson said.

Dividing the city?

Olson and Swartout say it isn’t primarily the tax increase they object to, but the lack of options presented.

Being seen as “anti-referendum” isn’t easy. “Many people in Shakopee view it as a small, close-knit community and don’t want to be viewed as part of the opposition,” Swartout said.

Despite a population of 40,000, Shakopee’s small-town feel is another reason some object to a second school. Swartout believes two schools will divide the city, he said.

But Kevin Wetherille, a parent who supports the referendum, said that kind of division “only happens if adults in the community let it happen.”

Wetherille was initially skeptical, but believes students will have more chances to participate in extracurriculars with a second school. And since freshman-year grades are now considered on college applications, ninth-graders belong in high school, he said.

He felt the task force “had explored all the options,” he said.

If the referendum doesn’t pass, Thompson said the district will have to look at ways to make use of existing spaces right away. But he’s hopeful voters will approve it, he said.

The district passed bond referendums in 2004 to fund the existing high school, and in 2005 to build two elementary schools and a pool.

“You don’t get a second chance or a mulligan with kids’ academics,” he said.

Erin Adler • 952-746-3283

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