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Board okays school survey

Taxpayers will be asked views of facility upgrade options

Keith Vandervort
Posted 8/30/19

ELY – School Board members here Monday night signed off on a community survey that will soon be sent to ISD 696 taxpayers to gauge their support for a facilities renovation project.

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Board okays school survey

Taxpayers will be asked views of facility upgrade options

Posted

ELY – School Board members here Monday night signed off on a community survey that will soon be sent to ISD 696 taxpayers to gauge their support for a facilities renovation project.

Following months of task force workshops, deliberations by the board over financial considerations, and reviews of potential architectural plans and options, the public will now be asked to weigh the needs of the students in the Ely schools against a potential increase in their property taxes.

The project, estimated to cost at least $5 million and possibly as much as $20 million, will require a voter-approved bond measure to become a reality.

The draft survey was not made public this week, but through the board’s discussion, it appears that the survey gives options for how much of a renovation project the taxpayer is willing to support, and what sort of renovation options have the most support.

“There is no basic (renovation) plan until you get the results back and you decide what you want to do,” Abrahamson said. “There are options to the plan and choices to be made.”

Any property tax increase would likely be for a 20-year period, Abrahamson said. “Tax impacts are based on a property’s taxable market value, and not what the owner may think their property or their business is worth,” he said.

With the board’s final approval, the survey will be sent to the printer by the end of this week, and will be emailed to staff early next month, followed by distribution via email to parents. Mailed surveys to all district taxpayers will be distributed the week of Sept. 16, Abrahamson said. Surveys should be returned by Oct. 7.

Survey results will be presented to the school board by the consulting firm School Perceptions at a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 6 p.m. in the school media center. School board meetings are open to the public.

The school board will use the results of the survey to construct questions for a bond referendum that could be held in February or April of next year. The board will hold public information sessions prior to a vote.

The facilities project discussion all started with an idea to build a better connection between the school buildings on the Ely campus. “For years, the safety and security of our students traveling between buildings has been a focus of the district,” Abrahamson said. “This remains our primary concern, though we may also realize savings in heating costs because we won’t be opening doors to the outside in the dead of winter multiple times a day.”

Other concerns that arose during facilities discussions include the maintenance and upkeep required for the century–old buildings. “There is a great sense of community pride in our historic buildings, and maintaining them is a priority,” Abrahamson said.

Potential funding help from the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation, through their Collaboration and Innovative Programming, innovative programming and academic collaboration was discussed at length over the summer. “For the IRRRB to support a facilities project like ours, they need to see community commitment,” Abrahamson said.

Board member Tom Omerza stressed the importance of “keeping IRRR officials in the loop” on the results of the survey and how the Ely community feels about paying for school building renovations.

Other business

In other business during a short special meeting, the board:

Hired Kris Winkleman for the Cafeteria Aide (cashier) position.

Called back Cathy Braun to fill a vacant para-professional position.

Hired Kristine Marshall for the Early Childhood Family Education and School Readiness Coordinator and Teacher position for the 2019-2020 school year.

Hired Ruth Griffin for the long-term substitute position.

Hired Jennifer Stouffer for the Early Childhood Family Education Assistant position.

Hired David Brown for the bus driver position.

Hired Madeline Swenson for the Media Generalist position.

Approved a lane change for Brenda Check-Olson.

Accepted the resignation of Richard Kovall from the part-time Cafeteria Aide position.

Approved the Computer Science Principles course as an Advanced Placement course.

Approved cooperative agreements for volleyball and girls swimming with the Krekelberg Home School for the 2019-2020 season.

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