Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Q: What schools would be impacted?

    A: Schools across the district would see improvements - see highlights on the following chart.

If voters approve the referendum
2019 Bond Thank you logo
  • Q: How can the bond be $275 million with a $5 increase for the avg homeowner?

    A: Because the school district is paying off old debt, it has a unique opportunity to add new debt with a minimal impact on property owners. IF voters approve the referendum, the average homeowner will see a $5 per month tax increase ($200,000 value home).


    Q: Why propose so many improvements at one time?

    A: This project has many moving parts. In order to align the middle schools to the two high schools, we need to enlarge both John Glenn and Skyview Middle Schools. The new elementary school buildings on the current Maplewood Middle and Eagle Point Elementary sites need to be built to welcome students from Skyview Elementary, Oakdale Elementary and Webster Elementary schools. Carver Elementary must also be expanded to accommodate more students in the south end of the district. Since space challenges are present at all buildings, and secure entrances and safe drop off-pick up zones are needed at all sites, the changes are district-wide rather than at only a few select locations. Whew!


    Q: When would changes take place?

    A: While the construction projects would begin as soon as the drawings are finalized and building permits approved, any boundary changes and school closures would not happen until at least the fall of 2022.


    Q: Didn’t the district just pass a levy?

    A: In November 2016, we made an operating levy request. This May 2019 election will be a bond request. Bonds are for buildings and levies are for learning. Bond funds can only be used for construction and renovations. Operating levies are a legally separate funding stream that voters can approve to support classrooms and educational programs.


    Q: Will there be boundary changes if the referendum passes?

    A: The school district has not changed boundaries in several years, but will need to change the boundaries whether the referendum passes or not. All changes would be developed using demographic data and community input, designed to meet district goals for equity. Any boundary changes would be communicated in 2021-22, and take effect fall 2022 at the earliest.

    • If the referendum passes, there will be boundary changes to align students with the consolidated elementary and middle schools.
    • If the referendum does not pass, adjustments will still need to be made due to population density shifts and overcrowding in some schools.

    Q: What will happen to elementary school class sizes if we move from nine elementary schools to seven?

    A: Class size ranges are likely to remain the same or possibly decrease, as the new boundaries that will be put in place will even out our student populations across the district.


    Q: If the referendum does not pass, will my school property taxes go down?

    A: If the referendum does not pass, there is no guarantee that taxes will go down because the needs for building maintenance across the district will not go away. The School Board has the authority to tax residents without voter approval for long-term facilities maintenance funds, which would keep overall school property taxes at their current levels. However, these funds can only be used for maintenance and repairs, leaving many current needs unmet. In addition, long-term facilities maintenance funds are spread out over time, which would further delay the repairs and updates identified.


    Q: Why is the vote being held in May instead of November?

    A: State law allows school districts to hold bond elections in the spring as well as the fall. This allows districts to plan construction schedules that are convenient for Minnesota because our construction season is so weather-dependent. The May timeframe would allow the district to start some of the simpler construction projects in summer 2019, rather than lose a whole year. More complex projects would be planned during the school year, with most construction taking place in the summers of 2020, 2021 and 2022.


    Q: What happens if the referendum is not approved by voters?

    A: If voters do not approve the referendum request:

    • Our schools will continue to have safety, security, and traffic flow concerns.
    • Students and staff will continue to work in inappropriate, outdated, and unhealthy learning environments.
    • We will continue to spend more on operating and transportation costs than if we consolidate and renovate schools.
    • Some schools will remain overcrowded.
    • We will miss an opportunity to reinvest in schools across the district with a minimal tax increase.
    • Construction costs are projected to increase, making any future changes more expensive.

    District leaders would also work hard to assess why the referendum failed and consider developing a new plan to bring to voters since the building needs will not have gone away.


    Q: What is the duration of the tax impact?

    A: Bonds are acquired and sold at different increments, so this bond period is expected to last for 20-22 years. 


    Q: Will the bond affect my 2019 property taxes? I am filling out my property tax rebate form and want to make sure I understand when the bond payments would begin.

    A: If the bond passes, it will appear on your 2020 property tax bill.
     

    Q: The bond materials indicate that Webster Elementary will close and the building will be repurposed for district programs. What exactly does that mean?

    A: Our overall plan is to consolidate from 14 schools to 11 larger schools. Webster is one of the buildings that would close. The Webster building would be kept for district programming but the specific use has not been entirely decided yet. We have other district programs in leased spaces that could move into that building. We also want to keep the building in case enrollment in this part of the district increases in the future.


    Q: The bond materials indicate Oakdale Elementary will close. What will happen to the building?

    A: Oakdale Elementary will close under the current plan. The property will be redeveloped as part of the Tartan High School expansion.


    Q: Overcrowding is mentioned several times in the bond information video. How many students attending school in District 622 live outside of the district? Can limits be placed on how many students are accepted to help alleviate some of the overcrowding?

    A: In Minnesota, open enrollment is the law. We cannot close open enrollment because we are not full. We have crowded spaces due to fluctuations in enrollment at certain buildings. We also provide many services, required by law, in our elementary schools that we did not provide when they were built. (The informational video shows examples of how our staff is using spaces not meant for teaching.)

    District 622 actually loses more students to other schools and districts than enter the district via open enrollment. Our current enrollment is about 10,800 students. Over 2,700 students living in the district attend other public schools or districts. We gain about 1,200 students from other schools and districts, which is a net loss of about 1,500 students. These numbers do not include students who are home-schooled or attend private schools.


    Q: If we are fixing up buildings that are over 50 years old, what is the plan for maintenance going forward?

    A: Our buildings receive regular maintenance including items such as roof replacement, lighting upgrades, and new windows. The facilities plan calls for more comprehensive and strategic renovations, actually reconfiguring spaces and adding secure entrances. The district has been strategic in how these projects occur because, per state law, construction dollars are not part of long-term facilities maintenance funds. If the bond passes, the district has a long-term maintenance plan with structured cycles for replacements and upgrades.


    Q: Don't you think that having a May 14 vote will result in low voter turnout?

    A: The school board had many considerations when making the decision about the time of the vote, including:

    •  Waiting until November means losing 16-18 months of construction time
    • School construction is different from regular construction because we work around when students are in class
    • Inflation projections are so high right now that waiting until November would add at least $10 million to the construction costs
    • If the bond passes on May 14, construction could begin next spring
    • If the bond were to wait until November, we could not start construction until the spring of 2021 because of the need to work around student schedules

    Q: How have you let district residents know about the bond referendum?

    A: We started conversations in the fall of 2017 and have held over 60 meetings in the past few months alone. We have also used the following communications:

    • Public meetings held in March and April
    • District-wide mailing showing the ballot language and explaining what it means
    • Legal notice to residents whose polling places are different because of the special election
    • District-wide 622 News postcard
    • Bi-weekly e-news sent to all 622 families for whom we have email addresses, all staff, elected officials, and subscribers
    • Weekly social media posts to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
    • Press releases to local newspapers
    • Presentations at school board meetings (which is broadcast and shown daily on Ch 20, and also available on YouTube)

    Q: Why is my polling location different for this election?

    A: During a special school district election, polling places may be centralized or combined. A notification was mailed to all households in which at least one person is registered to vote to notify them that their polling location changed. In addition, due to the construction project at Richardson Elementary, that polling location moved to Cowern Elementary.


    Q: Wasn’t security part of the last levy?

    A: Yes, it was. The security proposal in 2016 included HD cameras, greeters at our main doors, and behavior specialists. The security requests this time around are for new secured entrances to our buildings and for safer pick-up and drop off zones.


    Q: Are school boundaries changing?

    A: The school district has not changed boundaries in several years, but will need to whether the referendum passes or not. All changes would be developed using demographic data and community input, designed to meet district goals for equity. Any boundary changes would be communicated in 2021-22, and take effect fall 2022.

    • If the referendum passes, there will be boundary changes to align students with the consolidated elementary and middle schools.
    • If the referendum does not pass, adjustments will still need to be made due to population density shifts and overcrowding in some schools.

    Q: Do we expect teacher of staff layoffs?

    A: We are not currently predicting a drop of enrollment that would lead to teacher layoffs.