Voters to decide on new high school in Alexandria, Minn.The fate of Jefferson High School (JHS) in Alexandria will once again be in the hands of School District 206 residents.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
The fate of Jefferson High School (JHS) in Alexandria will once again be in the hands of School District 206 residents. At its July 18 meeting, the Alexandria School Board unanimously approved putting a high school bond referendum ballot before voters.
The vote will be held Tuesday, September 27. If approved, the new high school would be built on land owned by the school district on Pioneer Road.
“We have worked jointly with our community to present a plan that is financially responsible, educationally sound and in the best interests of our long-term vitality,” said School Board Chair Dean Anderson in a press release.
The new high school is Phase II of the school district’s two-phase long-range facilities plan, in the works since 2003. Voters approved Phase I in 2007, which addressed elementary school needs and purchased the land for the new high school.
If approved, the new high school would open in the fall of 2014.
Although total cost of the school will be $70.5 million, the requested bond amount will be just $65,150,000, to be paid over 25 years. This is because a capital campaign raised $3.35 million and an agreement was struck to sell JHS for $2 million. An additional $650,000, with pledges due after 2014, will further reduce the impact to taxpayers.
Based on an average $175,000 home, the property tax impact to homeowners, with the $65.15 million bond, would be $125 per year.
The decision to build a new high school, according to the district, was based on three issues: Insufficient space and crowding at JHS, requiring the use of aging portable classrooms; aging infrastructure, including heating, plumbing, electrical and ventilating systems; and the impact both limited space and deteriorating infrastructure have on learning opportunities.
According to district officials, the new high school would be an investment in schools, as well as in the community. The high school would include a large auditorium, athletic fields and other spaces available to the public for activities, events and organizations.
“We took a monumental step in authorizing the sale of these bonds and I am excited about it! It’s especially exciting to see we didn’t have to go for the full $70.5 million,” Anderson concluded. “This is a big milestone but we certainly have our work cut out for us. Here we go!”
• The current high school was built in 1957.
• A new high school is phase II of the district’s two-phase long-range facilities plan.
• Voters approved phase I in 2007, which addressed elementary school needs and purchased land for a new high school.
• A new high school is needed because the current school has insufficient space and aging infrastructure, which impacts learning opportunities, according to the district.
• The bond issue amount will be $65.15 million, to be repaid over 25 years.
• Total cost of the new high school is $70.5 million.
• The bond amount is less because $3.35 million was pledged from a capital campaign, and JHS has been sold for $2 million to hold it for future purchase by its neighbors. An additional $650,000 in capital campaign pledges due after 2014 further reduces the tax impact.
• Under the $65.15 million debt modeling, a homeowner (based on $175,000 average home) would pay $125 per year ($10.50 per month, 35 cents per day) in property taxes.
• The bond referendum vote is set for Tuesday, September 27.
HOW THE BALLOT WILL READ
School District Ballot Question
Approval of School Building Bonds
Shall the School Board of Independent School District No. 206
• YES (Alexandria), Minnesota, be authorized to issue general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $65,150,000,
• NO for acquisition and betterment of school facilities?
By voting “yes” on this ballot question, you are voting for a property tax increase.