ISD 197 board approves bond referendum

Vote to take place May 8.

On Dec. 4, the West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area School Board unanimously voted to put a funding question before voters on May 8.

The board is asking residents to approve a $117 million building bond for structural and mechanical maintenance upgrades at all the district’s school buildings. Improvements will include modernizing outdated classroom and education spaces, improving fine arts and athletics spaces and addressing school parking lot safety and handicapped accessibility. 

“Our facilities are aging and they are in constant use,” board chair Joanne Mansur said in a press release. “Despite the hard work of our staff to keep up with maintenance, repairs and small annual updates, as a community we must make periodic investments to replace equipment and sustain the buildings, classrooms, fields, gyms and stages where our kids learn and grow.”

Discussions regarding potential facility needs began 18 months ago with a district-wide deferred maintenance assessment. In March of this year, a facilities task force comprised of parents, community members, teachers and administrators was formed. The task force completed a comprehensive review of all school buildings and grounds. 

If the bond is approved, the tax increase on a median-value district home, which is worth $237,000, would be roughly $87 per year.

According to the press release, the last time a comprehensive study of facilities was carried out was in 1999, and based on the results a bond was proposed and approved in 2004.

If the referendum is passed, work is anticipated to begin next year and be completed around 2020.

— Hannah Burlingame

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