Voters head to the polls Tuesday
Let's look once more at what voters are going to be asked to vote for and to approve when they go to the polls Nov. 3.
First and foremost, voters are going to vote for three School Board members. Candidates running for School Board are Dan Cater, Lisa Hedin, Angie McGinnis, Teresa Moes and Vince O'Brien. Cater, Moes and O'Brien are the incumbents, each having served a four-year term on the board. Profiles of the candidates were run in the Oct. 22 edition of the Star Gazette and are on the Star Gazette website.
On a separate ballot, voters are also going to be asked to vote "yes" or "no" for three separate questions relating to a loan the School District 200 would like the school district residents to approve. As owners of the district's buildings, property owners in the district would be responsible for the payment of the loan through additional property taxes. The school district has said the additional taxes on a $250,000 home would be approximately $85 over the length of the loan.
The total of the loan would be $19.25 million if all three questions are approved. Of that total, $16.754 million of the loan would be interest-free or at a very low interest because of a federal act to stimulate the economy. The savings in interest to Hastings' residents could be up to $11 million. The interest-free amount could be larger if another district turns down its bond.
Question 1 ($6.8 million) on the ballot deals with roofs, windows, tuck pointing and piping. There would be re-roofing at John F. Kennedy, Christa McAuliffe and Pinecrest Elementary School, and at the middle school. Windows at those building would also be replaced. Those building with brick facings - JFK, McAuliffe, Pinecrest and the middle school - would be tuck pointed. There would be select piping work done at the middle school, along with charcoal filters, to mitigate lead in the water at the school.
Questions 2 and 3 are contingent on the passage of Question 1.
Question 2 ($8.45 million) is about the replacement of the ventilation and heating systems at McAuliffe and a portion of the middle school. McAuliffe was built in 1988, and its heating system is 21 years old.
Question 2 also includes $150,000 to replace the doors at the middle school that are insulated with asbestos, considered a hazardous material by the state.
Question 3 ($4 million) seems to be the most complicated of the three questions the voters are being asked to approve, as it involves a switch in how students are going to be housed in the district.
The $4 million, if approved, would be used to build an eight-classroom, two-story addition to the middle school for the fifth-graders of the district. While the fifth-graders would technically be attending the middle school, they would have their own 11,700 square-foot area.
The kindergartners would be relocated into the space at elementary sites the fifth-graders would vacate. A kindergarten room is larger than a standard classroom, so six classrooms at JFK would be remodeled into four larger kindergarten classrooms. Three existing classrooms at McAuliffe would be remodeled into two. There are already five kindergarten classrooms at Pinecrest.
By relocating the kindergartners at the elementary sites, Tilden would be available for other uses. The Hastings Area Senior Center, Community Education - Early Childhood Family Education, Early Childhood Education, and Adult Basic Education - and the Hastings Area Learning Center could be located at the site, eliminating the need for three separate sites.
Currently Community Education rents space at Westview Center; the senior center is located near downtown, and ALC is on Vermillion Street. Locating them all at Tilden would save money, according to the district.
The three questions as one issue are complicated. There is more information on the School District 200 website at www.hastings.k12.mn.us; Supt. Tim Collins in on the radio each Friday at 9 a.m.; go to KDWA Radio 1460. There is an opportunity for callers to ask questions.