Sauk Rapids and Rice voters approved on Tuesday a ballot question to invest $36.1 million to replace Pleasantview Elementary School with a new school building on the current site. The measure passed on a 3,054 - 1,222 vote.

"This was a plan led by our community," Superintendent Aaron Sinclair said. "Residents consistently identified the challenges at Pleasantview as our district’s most urgent need. We're glad to have the community's support to provide a secure, healthy and modern facility for our Pleasantview students.”

The school board put forward the referendum to replace the 50-year-old Pleasantview building based on a variety of challenges, including asbestos in the gym and cafeteria, an aging HVAC system and a deteriorating roof. Classroom space has been an ongoing problem that was worsened after a fire at the school.

The referendum is the first step in the district’s long-term plan to improve the quality of its school facilities. The plan includes using Long-Term Maintenance Fund dollars to address a wide range of needs, such as roof repairs, heating and boiler repairs, and window and door replacements over the next 10 years. These other improvements will have no new tax impact on residents.

“Now that our community has given us clear direction on Pleasantview, we can move ahead with the rest of the long-term facilities plan,” said School Board Chair Ryan Butkowski. “We appreciate the questions and input we’ve heard from the community throughout this process. It shows our community’s deep commitment to our schools, and we’re grateful for that.”

Sauk Rapids and Rice residents will receive updates and opportunities to provide more feedback as the district moves into the design and construction of the new Pleasantview Elementary building. Students and staff will continue using the current building during construction.

"I want to thank everyone who voted and took part in this important decision,” Sinclair said. “This is an exciting next chapter for our district.”

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