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The Big Lake School District decided unanimously on Tuesday, July 22 to hold a special election for an operating referendum in November.

The school district will be seeking authorization to issue up to $30 million in bonds to fund improvements to its existing school facilities.

The proposed bond would carry a 20-year term, according to school district officials.

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, Big Lake school district voters will answer the simple question, “Shall the board of Independent School District 727 (Big Lake) Minnesota be authorized to issue general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $30,000,000 for acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including, but not limited to, various deferred capital projects including roofs and ventilation systems, and renovations to educational spaces including career and technical education, special education, and other instructional spaces at all levels.” Voters are asked to respond with a “yes” or “no.”

School District Business Manager Angie Manuel said that a $30 million referendum comes with no increase in taxes to school district taxpayers. That’s because a previous referendum that funded the building of Liberty Elementary School is expiring this year. Not increasing taxes is something that’s important to the Big Lake School Board, because the board’s perimeters state there will be no increase in taxes.

However, a failed referendum would result in a decrease in school district taxes, because the existing bond payments will be coming off the tax rolls.

Some of the priorities targeted by referendum proceeds could include the replacement of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) at Independence Elementary School, district-wide replacement of control systems, the replacement of roofs across the school district buildings, and the dehumidification of high school activity spaces. Traffic safety and parking at Liberty Elementary School is also a priority.

Improvements to facilities used for career and technical education and special education are also areas of priority and, according to school board officials, were strongly supported in a recent school district survey. Upgrading media centers to meet the needs of the 21st Century are also projects of high priority within the school district.

The action follows months of discussion that included school board members and community focus groups.

In related action at the July 22 school board meeting, the Big Lake School Board voted to approve its plan for referendum projects and submit it to the Minnesota Department of Education.

The MDE must review and approve the document and its plans before a referendum can be held, Supt. Tim Truebenbach said.

Reach Jeff Hage at jeff.hage@ecm-inc.com

 

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