ST. CLOUD - When a referendum returns to the St. Cloud area school district community in the future, it will involve two high schools again.

The board confirmed its decision to maintain a two high school system for a future referendum after hearing a presentation from Superintendent Willie Jett and administration on Wednesday night.

The future referendum will involve the same pieces from the 2015 version:  Replacing Tech High School with a new school at a site on 33rd Street South, and also remodeling Apollo High School. Jett will now begin working on specific plans and costs for the referendum to return to the board.

The 2015 referendum was $167 million and was rejected by St. Cloud area voters in November, with 53% voting against and 47% voting yes.

It's not officially known when another referendum will come to the community, but Jett has hinted at a fall referendum this year.

A one-school and three-school solution (which would involve building a new high school in St. Joseph) were also discussed during the presentation. Administration says one large high school for the district would have a negative impact on their lower-income students, who benefit more from having smaller schools and class settings with the two high schools: Out of the 10,270 students in the district: 58 percent are on free or reduced lunch and 2,100 are english learners.

Administration says the three school system would also present challenges to the district, specifically in regards to staffing each building, having full course offerings and elective opportunities being spread out.

Survey results included in the presentation also show the public mostly supports keeping two high schools. Out of 1,860 respondents:

  • 277 supported a one high school solution.
  • 812 supported a two high school solution.
  • 771 supported a three high school solution.

Both the one and three-school system would save the district money. It's estimated the one high school option would save $567,000 and the three school option would save just over $1.6 million.

Board member Bruce Hentges was the lone no vote against the two-high school plan. He has been an active voice in the District for shifting to a one-high school system.

"I think it would be a mistake for us to make this decision before hearing from the folks of one-high school systems like the Shakopee District first. We are missing a big opportunity," Hentges said.