SAUK RAPIDS -- The Sauk Rapids-Rice School District is regrouping after a failed May referendum, by hiring a private Minneapolis based marketing firm.

The board recently approved the hiring of the private firm, Morris Leatherman, to conduct community surveys and provide better engagement.

Interim Superintendent Bruce Watkins says the district needs to better match their plans with the voter's desires.

"We need to match our long range plans with that [voters priorities] because in Minnesota if you're going to build buildings or do major facilities things you need to have a voter referendum to make that successful."

He add this time, the school board is making sure they have no pre-conceived notions of their own.

"They're not gonna sit down and have their own individual opinions about what needs to go forward. They realize they've each only got one vote, so they're interested in the community's opinions on this."

The firm's contract is for $20,000, and they'll be used until the district is ready to move on and propose another referendum. The board has not set any time-table and they hope to have the initial community surveys out by October.

The referendum proposal was for $86.9-million broken into two options: $56.9 million for upgrading all district facilities and building several new ones including a new elementary school and athletic facilities at the high school, and $30 million to rebuild Pleasantview Elementary where it is now.

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