The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district is moving forward with plans to ask voters for $180 million in a referendum this November.
If approved, the money would pay for a new elementary school, additions to five magnet schools and Parkview Elementary, safety and security updates to school entrances and iPads for every student in grades 4 through 12. The school board will decide Aug. 17 whether the question will go to voters.
“It’s not flashy,” said Superintendent Jane Berenz. “All of the things that we’re asking for are really solid components we need for safety, security and learning.”
The single ballot question would cover a $50 million capital projects levy to fund technology updates and a $130 million bond request. The bond portion would include $35 million for safety and security, $90 million for a new school and classrooms and $5 million for technology infrastructure.
The property tax impact would be $12 a month for owners of an average home valued at $256,000 in the district.
The district last passed a bond referendum in 2004. Voters approved the district’s most recent levy request — $30 million — in 2013.
Motivated by technology
The district is seeking money for technology needs because it doesn’t have a funding source specifically for those expenses, Berenz said.
Kids need access to technology tools 24 hours a day because learning happens even when students aren’t at school, she said.
The levy proposal includes iPads for every student in grades 4 through 12, so they can take them home. In kindergarten through grade 3, there will be classroom iPads for students to share if the levy passes, she said.
From technology to security updates, many of the items included in the proposal reflect the changing expectations and requirements of schools, said Board Member Mike Roseen.
“This [referendum] is to keep our schools at the standard our public wants them to be,” he said.
The need for more elementary school space is driven in part by the addition of all-day kindergarten classes, funded for the first time by the state in 2014-15. Many districts, including 196, scrambled to find more space.
Greg Abbott, spokesman for the Minnesota School Boards Association, said he thinks a lot of districts will be seeking bonds to build schools or additions.
Districts are looking ahead and planning for early childhood space, too, he said.
Berenz said she knows $180 million sounds like a sizable sum, but noted that Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan is the state’s fourth largest district.
“It’s a lot of money so you want to make sure people understand what’s all behind it,” she said.