Sauk Rapids-Rice Making Case for Major Referendum Request
SAUK RAPIDS -- Security, expansion and replacing an aging elementary school, are the main parts of a $93-million question voters in the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District will be asked to answer May 8th.
The district is asking for $93,185,000 to build secure entrances across the district, build a new elementary school, rebuild Pleasantview elementary and expand childhood space at Rice Elementary, and Hillside School.
Megan Rogholt is the Director of Early Childhood Programs at Hillside. She says the lack of space has left them unable to service all the kids they'd like to in the community.
"We have a lot of kids, our classes are full, we're able to fill our classes up. It's just that we're not able to serve all the kids in our community because there's not enough space for that."
The district says the quick benefits of expanding early childhood would include moving the 79 kids currently on a wait list, into education.
They also say the expansion would help attract and retain families, to lessen their dependence on funding from open-enrollment. The district is reimbursed $6,000 - $7,000 per openly enrolled student, depending on if they're elementary, or secondary students.
One of the largest items on the district's wish list is a rebuild of Pleasantview Elementary. The school, built as a "pod" design in 1969, is now out of date, inefficient and overcrowded.
Principal Aby Froiland says the overcrowding means purpose-built rooms are often sacrificed to make more room for classes, which can run roughshod over other rooms built for other specific purposes.
"We've gotten rid of the book room, it's had to be made into a classroom now. And we've put them out here [in the media center], so they can still check out books, but now they're out here on bookshelves. "
The lack of space has teachers building makeshift walls for privacy and sound concerns, and several splitting classrooms. On top of space, they have to make due with outdated boilers, and portable classrooms well past their prime.
Security is a large concern as well, since the vast majority of classrooms at Pleasantview lack doors. The school also lacks appropriate space for English language learners and special education.
The district would also like to build new athletic facilities, so the high school teams would not have to leave campus for home games.
Last year's referendum failed. If passed, this year's would cost the owner of a $150,000 $128 per year for the 20-year life of the bond. A $250,000 homeowner would foot a $238 per year bill over the same time. A $350,000 homeowner, would pay $348 a year.