WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE may 14TH REFERENDUM?
Local residents will vote on one question during the May 14th election. This question will include district-wide improvements addressing three central types of needs: safety and security, academics, and activities. The administration and the school board have worked diligently to find the right plan for residents to consider – by proposing this as a single question, the District hopes to highlight the importance of these investments for students, staff, and community.
A detailed list of all improvements for each question can be found on The Plan page.
WHY ARE THESE IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED?
Over the course of the last several months, the Frazee-Vergas Schools Leadership and Community Task Force identified facility-related improvements necessary to address safety and security, academic needs, and activity needs. Until November 2018, it had been more than 20 years since the District reinvested in the facilities. While the voter-approved renovation plan for the elementary school addressed some of the District’s needs, it only responded to a small portion of the long-range planning needs.
how does the plan address safety and security?
Safety and security are critical for our students, staff, and community. This plan addresses safety and security through these improvements:
Redesign the campus to put all building needs, parking, and outdoor activity on the North side of Highway 87. This will allow us to better supervise building entrances and exits and outdoor spaces. We appreciate the support we have received from the Minnesota Department of Transportation in planning this redesign.
Both buildings will receive redesigned entrances, school offices, parking, and student pickup and drop-off areas. This will allow for more secure access to the buildings and safer transportation around them.
Relocating the football / track facility next to the current Junior High football fields. By moving and rebuilding the facility, we are able to make room for the parking and drop-off areas that will improve campus safety.
how does the plan address ACADEMIC AREAS?
Fortunately, most of our academic areas are well-designed and ready for the students of tomorrow. However, we have identified several important improvements:
Establish a dedicated Robotics testing room
Create additional space for early childhood education (EFCE) / Latch Key
Improve our band and choir classrooms
Strengthen STEAM education in the elementary school.
Enhance the fitness/weight room
Create a student commons, a dedicated area where students can gather, eat and learn during the school day. The student commons will also serve as our cafeteria, allowing us to use our gym space more efficiently.
how does the plan address ACtivity AREAS?
The District has always made a strong commitment to student activities -- a student’s learning continues beyond the classroom. Every time a student steps onto the track or begins play practice, their passion for learning continues.
NEW Auditorium for dance, plays, musical performances, lyceums, and community use
NEW Gymnasium with enhanced seating capacity (710 to 1,100 plus), improved seating for athletes, locker rooms, wrestling practice room, training room, and lobby
NEW Football / Track Facility, eight lane competitive track, enhanced seating, concessions, bathrooms, scoreboard, and lighting
Significant repairs are needed to the current track, bleachers, bathrooms, and concessions - in the long run, the best financial investment is to replace rather than investing in continuous repairs.
Relocation allows for both an area for the NEW gymnasium to be constructed and for a more secure and safe location for our student parking lot.
what are the benefits of the plan?
Our students, staff, and communities benefit from this plan in the following ways:
Improve the safety and security of our campus for students and staff
Improve classroom education areas; particularly for ECFE students, young STEAM learners, robotics students, and participants in band and choir
Better facilities for sports and fine arts to provide a well-rounded education for students
A cost-efficient plan to address multiple needs at the same time to reduce the overall cost when compared to a five- or ten-year plan
Avoid future maintenance and repair costs which will save valuable operating dollars for the school
WHO DEVELOPED THIS PLAN?
The District has refined the 2018 plan that was developed and facilitated through a comprehensive planning process. The process engaged industry professionals, staff, administration, key stakeholders, and input from the Community Task Force.
Since the mixed referendum results in November, the District gathered feedback over the past several months and worked on a solution that would meet expectations and achieve the long-term planning goals previously established.
WHAT IS THE COST OF THE PROPOSED PLAN?
These improvements will not exceed $25.6 Million, paid for by issuing low-interest bonds. This budget stays within the limits established by the School Board for the 2018 election. If the referendum is successful, the District will combine the project design and implementation with the elementary school improvements that were approved in November, resulting in a cost savings.
WHAT WILL THE IMPACT BE ON MY TAXES IF THis question passes?
Every resident’s tax situation is different. However, for a person who owns a $125,000 house, the tax impact would result in a monthly increase of approximately $19.
The terms of the bonds are set for 20 years. You can find out what your estimated tax impact would be by using the tax calculator located on the Tax Impact page.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THE REFERENDUM FAILS?
This plan is the result of months of community input, planning, and development efforts. If the referendum fails, the District will evaluate the next appropriate course of action. Physical conditions will continue to age, or in some cases deteriorate, and the District will need to find a way to address those issues. The tax impact will change in the future, as costs will likely increase and the District will not be able to take advantage of expiring taxes.
HOW DO I SUBMIT MY QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS ABOUT THE PROPOSED REFERENDUM?
We welcome all comments, questions, and feedback about the proposed referendum. Questions and comments can be submitted on the Contact Us page, or by contacting Superintendent Terry Karger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218.334.3181, Ext. 5601. Additional resources about the proposed referendum can be found on the Resources page as well.
HOW DO I VOTE IN THIS SPECIAL ELECTION? CAN I VOTE EARLY?
On May 14th, the special election will be held at two combined polling places, from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. Find your polling place.
Vergas Event Center
140 West Linden Street
Vergas, MN 56587
Frazee Event Center
114 Lake Street North
Frazee, MN 56544
Early voting is available starting March 29th. It will be available from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, Monday through Friday at:
Becker County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office
915 Lake Avenue
Detroit Lakes, MN 56501
why are we going out for another referendum now?
The District’s facilities still have deferred maintenance needs that need to be addressed both indoors and outdoors. The District determined a May election would be best for several reasons:
Deferred maintenance needs could be addressed without jeopardizing future facility plans
The District could combine the bond sale with the previously approved elementary bond; allowing the District to save money on bond closing costs.
The District could combine the design costs for the two projects into one.
Interest rates have been declining.
Work could coincide with the MnDOT Highway 87 construction project.
The existing track complex, football field, and grandstands need to be updated; these repairs could cost over $1 million dollars. See following question for more details on the football and track facility needs.
why are we moving the football field/track?
The current football and track facility is in need of major repair. The costs of these repairs are substantial, yet they would not bring the District closer to making the long-term improvements that have been requested by our communities.
Current repair items include the asphalt on the track, which is beyond repair and will need to be completely resurfaced. The football field lights are obsolete and will need to be replaced. The concession stands do not meet today’s health and safety codes or handicap accessibility codes. The bleachers are not handicap accessible and there are safety concerns with the current football goal posts as well as the location of the long jump and pole vault in proximity to the track.
The District will need to invest over $1 Million in improvements to address these needs in the next year. This investment does not allow the track to be expanded to eight lanes to host sectional meets and will impact our ability to relocate the student parking lot to the north side of Highway 87 and expand the high school building. Moving the football field/track allows our grounds to accommodate safety and security improvements as well as academic improvements.
what is the ag2school tax credit?
The Ag2School tax credit, also known as the School Building Bond Agricultural Credit, is offered by the State of Minnesota for agricultural landowners. It provides a 40% credit on school district bonded debt levies paid on agricultural land. This credit will be shown on the Proposed Property Tax Notice as a separate line.
How did the district decide if they should renovate the existing facilities or build a new school?
ICS conducted assessments of the quality of our school buildings, comparing these buildings to standards established by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). Background can be found as part of the Review and Comment materials on frazeevergasforward.com. The District has also obtained feedback from community members and staff through meetings and then examined options for a plan to address our needs.
MDE provides guidelines to aide in deciding if constructing a new building would be better than investing in existing buildings. The MDE guidelines require us to look at both what is best educationally for students and economically for taxpayers. One guideline recommends if cost of renovation approaches 60% of building new, then a new building should be considered. Based on the current proposed plan, the cost of renovation is approximately 32% of building new, and we can meet our educational goals through renovation. Based on that analysis, renovation is the best solution.
The other factor to consider is disruption to students during construction. The current renovation plan will have minimal disruptions to students during construction. If a new building was constructed, students would be displaced at minimum of 2 school years. If we can avoid this kind of disruption, we should.