WHAT IS A BOND REFERENDUM?

A bond referendum is an election that allows local residents to decide whether the school district should sell bonds to fund improvements in local schools.  Without approval from voters, the school boards would have to rely on the maintenance budget for repairs and other existing funds for new buildings. 


Why are we voting on a bond referendum? 

Residents will vote on November 5 whether to approve funding for the community’s plan to replace Pleasantview Elementary School with a new school on the current site, as the first step in the district’s long-term facilities plan.


WHY A BOND?

A bond is like a mortgage on your house, allowing all necessary investments to be made over the course of a project but paying for the cost over 20-25 years. 


WHY IS A NEW PLEASANTVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL NEEDED NOW?

Our community expressed that the needs at Pleasantview Elementary School are urgent. Classrooms are not adequate to serve students, infrastructure is being used beyond its useful life and the 50-year-old building is aging.


WHY NOT RENOVATE THE CURRENT PLEASANTVIEW ELEMENTARY school?

Remodeling the current Pleasantview Elementary School to fix only the critical issues and adding an addition to address classroom space issues would cost nearly as much as replacing the building with a brand-new facility. Remodeling takes longer and is more disruptive to students. Replacing the current building with a new facility will make taxpayer dollars go further and is reflective of the community's input.


WHY DIDN’T THE DISTRICT MAINTAIN THE PLEASANTVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL?

The Pleasantview Elementary School has been well maintained, given its age. However, the building is not adequate to serve today’s students or educational best practices. Our regular maintenance budget cannot keep up with necessary repairs and improvements. 


WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO OPERATE A NEW PLEASANTVIEW elementary school VERSUS THE CURRENT ONE?

Implementation of the proposed improvement projects is anticipated to have a minimal impact on overall district operating costs. While there will be a reduction in deferred maintenance resulting from the proposed demolition of older, existing square footage, there will be a slight increase in the square footage the district will need to operate and maintain. The district will take this opportunity to analyze its current staffing structure to identify potential efficiencies. The additional operating costs have been allocated within the district’s annual operating budget without a negative impact.


WOULD THE SCHOOL DISTRICT BUY ADDITIONAL PROPERTY FOR THE NEW PLEASANTVIEW ELEMENTARY school?

No, if voters approve the construction of a new school to replace Pleasantview Elementary School, it would be constructed on the existing site near the current school. No new property would be purchased.  


who came up with this plan?

The district has been evaluating its long-term facilities needs for over three years. Experts spent more than ten months evaluating our schools’ needs and receiving community input to help refine the plan. The One Storm One Future plan is driven by what the community told the district it needs. Additionally, thoughtful consideration has been put into correctly identifying the needs in our buildings. This includes:

  • 30 listening sessions during spring 2019

  • 12,000 surveys mailed directly to residents

  • Online resident survey

  • District financial review

  • Detailed facility assessment completed by experts

  • Educational adequacy assessment completed by experts

These assessments and listening sessions aided the district in identifying and prioritizing facility and educational needs. The proposed referendum addresses the most critical and urgent community-identified need within the district’s facilities: Pleasantview Elementary School.


HAVE LOCAL COMMUNITY MEMBERS BEEN INVOLVED IN THE LONG-RANGE FACILITIES PLANNING PROCESS?

Yes, local residents have been involved since planning began in the fall of 2018. The district held over two-dozen listening sessions during spring 2019, mailed 12,000 surveys directly to residents, and invited community input through an online survey. The top five facility issues identified from these sessions and survey were: 

  • Address the issues at Pleasantview Elementary School

  • Address the need for more elementary space

  • Address the need for more early childhood space

  • Address traffic flow/pick-up and drop-off safety

  • Preserve our other current buildings and land spaces

Local residents are encouraged to continue to provide the district feedback on the long-term facilities plan.


WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER ISSUES RAISED DURING COMMUNITY LISTENING SESSIONS?

While other issues, such as sporting facilities at the high school and the middle school pool, were raised as issues during community listening sessions, they were not as urgent as those included in the top five list. However, they remain as items to consider in future years through the district’s long-term facilities plan. 


WHAT DOES THE LONG-RANGE FACILITIES PLAN ENTAIL?

The long-range plan to address school facilities needs includes:

  • Replacing the current Pleasantview Elementary School with a new school on the current site.

  • If voters approve a replacement for Pleasantview Elementary School, longer term needs and improvements would be funded from current Long-Term Maintenance Fund dollars and borrowing against this revenue. It would not have a new tax impact on district residents. Priorities have been identified by district staff and a team of professional engineers, then sorted into three tiers based on urgency: 

    • Priority Needs 1 (1-2 years), including various roofing repairs, heating and boiler repairs/replacement and parking lot improvements. 

    • Priority Needs 2 (3-10 years), including various window and door replacements, parking lot repairs and building exterior upgrades. 

    • Priority Needs 3 (10+ years), including interior finishes, roof replacements and heating plant upgrades.


DOES THE DISTRICT’S LONG-TERM FACILITIES PLAN ADDRESS EARLY EDUCATION?

If voters approve a replacement for Pleasantview Elementary School, early childhood would be addressed as part of the district’s long-term plan to fund other facilities improvements with existing district funding options. 


Why is this referendum so much smaller than the last one we voted on?

The last referendum included replacing Pleasantview Elementary School, adding another elementary school and adding an athletic complex. The community rejected that plan. District staff returned to the drawing board and developed a long-term facilities plan based on community feedback and prioritization of needs. The plan on the ballot on November 5 only includes the top community-identified need – addressing Pleasantview by replacing it with a new building on the current site.


WHAT IS THE TIMELINE FOR DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION?

If voters choose to approve the November 5 ballot question and replace Pleasantview Elementary School, the district would move into the design phase. This phase is expected to last until late summer 2020. Bidding would most likely take place in September 2020. Once bidding is finished, construction is estimated to begin in October 2020 and be completed in July 2022.


WOULD CONSTRUCTION BE HANDLED LOCALLY?

By law, any school project with a value greater than $175,000 must be bid and awarded to the lowest bidder. While local preference is not permitted, companies from this region will be notified and able to bid on the project work or obtain subcontracts for work.


WHY IS ONLY ONE OPTION BEING PRESENTED TO THE COMMUNITY?

State law does not permit different facility options to be presented to voters at the same time.


WHAT HAPPENS IF WE VOTE “NO”?

Community feedback has indicated that Pleasantview Elementary School’s needs are too great to ignore. The district will have to find different ways to address the issues at Pleasantview Elementary School. This will include using existing district funding to help address critical needs. Using that funding to address Pleasantview Elementary School would mean that other community-identified priorities would need to be delayed or funded in a different manner.


CAN’T WE WAIT A FEW MORE YEARS?

Community feedback has indicated that Pleasantview Elementary School’s needs are too great to ignore. If the referendum fails, Sauk Rapids-Rice Public Schools will have to use General Fund dollars and other sources of funding to address the most critical issues at Pleasantview Elementary School.


IF THE REFERENDUM PASSES, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

The district would move into the design stage. Further input from the community would be sought on design. Construction would likely begin in the fall of 2020. 

If voters approve a replacement for Pleasantview Elementary School, longer term needs and other improvements would be funded from current Long-Term Maintenance Fund dollars and borrowing against this revenue. It would not have a new tax impact on district residents. Priorities have been identified by district staff and a team of professional engineers, then sorted into three tiers based on urgency: 

  • Priority Needs 1 (1-2 years), including various roofing repairs, heating and boiler repairs/replacement and parking lot improvements. 

  • Priority Needs 2 (3-10 years), including various window and door replacements, parking lot repairs and building exterior upgrades. 

  • Priority Needs 3 (10+ years), including interior finishes, roof replacements and heating plant upgrades.


What is the cost of the plan and how will it impact my taxes?

The single ballot question asks for $37.1 million to replace Pleasantview Elementary School with a new facility on the current site. The cost for an owner of the median value home in the district - $182,000 – would be $6.58 a month. Homeowners, as well as owners of seasonal, business or agricultural property, can find tax impact information for their property by using our tax calculator located on The Cost page.


WHAT IS WRAP-AROUND FINANCING?

When a local unit of government issues bonds for a building project, property taxes are used to make the monthly bond payments. Wrap-around financing is a technique used to create a predictable property tax increase that property owners can use to determine the impact on their monthly tax bill. 

Let’s say you have seven years left on your first mortgage on your house, but you want a $30,000 loan (not including interest) to build an addition and garage. Your banker will offer you a ten-year second mortgage with a fixed payment of $320 per month. However, if that payment is too high for your current household budget while you are still paying off that first mortgage, your banker may offer to have you pay a much smaller amount on the second mortgage in the first seven years, and then a larger amount in the final three years when the first mortgage is paid off.

  • Current mortgage payment:  $800 per month

  • Traditional Second mortgage payment:  $320 per month

  • Wrap-around second mortgage payment:  $80 per month for 7 years, then $880 per month for 3 years when the first mortgage is done

  • Your mortgage payment increases by 10%, and you continue to make these payments for 10 years.


IS WRAP-AROUND FINANCING COMMONLY USED?

Yes. Many school districts use wrap-around financing for new bond referenda. In addition, cities and counties, like Benton County, will use this when a new bond is issued while previous bonds are still being paid off.


WILL THE DISTRICT ASK LOCAL RESIDENTS FOR MORE MONEY IN THE FUTURE?

There is no plan to ask our community members to approve additional referenda as part of the One Storm One Future plan.


CAN YOU PROMISE THAT MY TAXES WON’T GO UP ANY MORE?

No.  Your total property taxes per month are determined by the Minnesota Legislature, Benton County, your city or township and other taxing districts. The only thing that the school district can say is: if you own a $182,000 home, the bond question on November 5 will cause your monthly taxes to go up by $6.58 next year, and the taxes for these school bonds will stay at that level for the next 19 years. 


IS OPEN ENROLLMENT STILL AN ISSUE?

Last year the school board changed their open enrollment policy for new non-resident students. This change in policy has slowed the pace of growth but not prevented the need to think carefully about our space needs in the future. Resident student enrollment is on the rise. People want to live in our communities, and they want to send their kids to our schools.


ISN’T THE DISTRICT ALREADY WORKING TO ADDRESS SAFETY AND SECURITY?

Yes. During the summer of 2019, the district  began $4.4 million in safety and security upgrades using general fund dollars and a State of Minnesota School Safety Grant. These district-wide improvements include: 

  • Controlled entrances for improved security

  • Visitor management systems

  • Security camera upgrades and additions 

  • Hand held radios

  • Increased mental health services


WHY WOULD YOU SPEND MONEY ON SECURITY AT PLEASANTVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IF YOU’RE JUST ASKING VOTERS TO REPLACE IT?

We believe these investments at Pleasantview Elementary School were a good use of the State of Minnesota grant. All students and staff deserve secure buildings, regardless of our future plans for the building. If voters approve the referendum, the equipment installed in Pleasantview Elementary School will be re-used, whenever possible.


DOES BUILDING A NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL MEAN WE’LL NEED A BIGGER MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL IN THE FUTURE?

No. The district’s long-term facilities plan was developed with enrollment projection in mind. If voters approve the plan to replace Pleasantview Elementary School with a new facility on the existing site, the capacity of the district’s three elementary schools would fit into the current middle and high school buildings in the future.


Can I vote absentee?

Yes, absentee voting is permitted.


WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE?

Local residents are encouraged to continue sharing their comments and asking questions by visiting OneStormOneFuture.com. You can get in touch with district staff about the long-term facilities plan through the connect page.