Superintendent viewpoint: Community vote on Nov. 7

Body: 

This past year the Hastings School District asked a volunteer Community Task Force to help give us feedback on the need to reinvest in our facilities. This task force identified core needs that must be addressed in the immediate future and they presented those needs to the school board in May of this past year.

The school board members agreed with the Community Task Force assessment and we will be running a bond campaign this November. As we have stated in past years, "Bonds are for buildings and levies are for learning." The school board also recognized that due to insufficient funding from the state of Minnesota, combined with our declining enrollment, we will also need to ask our supportive community for an increase to our operating levy in November as well. On Nov. 7, there are going to be two questions placed on a ballot.

Question 1: Bonds for reinvestment in buildings, facilities

The middle school site was built in the late '60s, and early '70s, and is in immediate need of replacement of the heating and ventilation system. The high school, constructed in 2000, is no longer the "new high school" and the roofs and parking lots have deteriorated, in accordance with expected timelines, and need replacement as well. We will also be reinvesting in technology, parking lots, roofing projects district wide, and upgrading our security systems.

The total cost for reinvestment will be $49.5 million. The tax impact for our residents...zero.

Our high school will soon be paid off and this bond will basically replace the bond that we were paying on our high school. For three years we will be paying the interest only on the bond and this allows us to make a reinvestment of $49.5 million and the tax impact is zero. It should be noted that the ballot question will have to state that a vote yes would technically raise your property taxes because if we do not approve the $49.5 million bond then your property taxes would go down in 2021, when the current high school debt is fully paid. 

Question 2: Operating levy increase

An operating levy is critical in providing revenue to help pay for the costs of doing the day-to-day business of educating our students. Approximately 80 percent of a school district's budget is comprised of salary and benefits for all of the employees in the district. This additional revenue will help to minimize future staff reductions that are projected due to continued declining enrollment and inadequate funding from the state of Minnesota.

We will be asking for an increase of $300 per student, and the tax impact on a $250,000 home would be approximately $10.56 a month.

For more information about the bond and levy go to: www.hastings.k12.mn.us.