What is a bond referendum?
A bond referendum provides funds that can be used to construct buildings, repair or renovate existing facilities, or purchase technology and other equipment.
Whenever a school district needs either operating or building funds that go beyond the dollars provided by the state, it must ask voters to approve those funds through a vote. (There are a few minor exceptions to this written into state statute).
What is the difference between a levy and a bond referendum?
An operating levy provides funds that are used for the general operations of the school district, including salaries, benefits, utilities, and classroom materials. Bond referendum proceeds cannot be used for school district operations.
What is included in this bond referendum?
- The funds would pay the cost for land and construction of a new Technical High School; ($113.8 million)
- The renovation of and additions to the existing Apollo High School site and facility; ($46.5 million)
- The construction of secure, controlled entries and safety and security upgrades to various school sites and facilities throughout the district; ($2.5 million)
- The purchase, installation and maintenance of technology and technology systems for schools throughout the district. (4.2 million)
Why only one ballot question and not four?
- Over the past two years, District 742 has analyzed its facilities to assess how well they meet current and future needs. As a part of that process, a High School Solution task force convened to study district needs and create a vision for St. Cloud Area high school students in November 2014. The 90-person volunteer task force consisted of parents, business leaders, community members, students, teachers and staff.
- After participating in intensive workshops, touring model high schools and studying best practices for 21st century learning communities, the task force recommended to the Board of Education that equitable opportunity be afforded to all St. Cloud area high school students by building a new Tech High School and renovating Apollo High School. In keeping with the district’s strategic plan and mission to create a safe and caring environment that engages and prepares all students for today’s and tomorrow’s society, the task force further recommended enhanced security at all schools and technology resources and accessibility for all students. The Board of Education determined that all four recommendations are vital to the success of District 742 students today and tomorrow, and approved the ballot question at the June 25, 2015 board meeting.
How will it benefit the community?
- Historically, communities that invest in new K-12 facilities see a sustained increase in home values.
- Employers benefit from a more prepared and educated workforce, and businesses are also attracted to communities that boast a thriving school district.
- When families choose a place to live, they put a high value on the quality of the community’s public schools.
- District 742 schools are community schools, which means that school amenities are also resources for community members including special events and community education. With funding from the referendum, new amenities will include an on-site athletic complex at Technical High School as well as 1200-seat auditorium.
How long will this bond be in effect?
The referendum is seeking authority for a 20-year bond totaling $167 million. The bond is similar to a mortgage on a home loan. Currently, interest rates are low and it is a favorable time to purchase bonds. Nonetheless, the district continually monitors the bond market and would consider refinancing the bonds if it would prove beneficial for taxpayers.
Who will be issuing the bonds and can an individual buy them?
Baird Financial will issue the bonds. An individual can buy them, but not directly. They will be sold on the secondary market.
What is the ballot question?
SCHOOL DISTRICT QUESTION 1 APPROVAL OF SCHOOL DISTRICT BOND ISSUE
Shall the school board of Independent School District No. 742 (St. Cloud Area Public Schools) be authorized to issue its general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $167,000,000 to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the acquisition of land for and the construction and equipping of a new high school facility; the remodeling, repair, renovation, equipping, upgrading and construction of improvements to the existing Apollo High School site and facility; the construction of secure controlled entries and safety and security upgrades to various school sites and facilities; and the acquisition, installation, replacement and maintenance of software, computers, mobile devices, technology, technology systems, networks and related infrastructure?
BY VOTING "YES" ON THIS BALLOT QUESTION, YOU ARE VOTING FOR A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE.
Who is eligible to vote?
Residents of the St. Cloud Area Public School District (ISD 742) are eligible to vote in the special bond referendum election on November 3rd. You must also be eligible to vote in the state of Minnesota:
- Be at least 18 years old on election day
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be a resident of Minnesota at least 20 days immediately preceding election day
- Be properly registered
- Not be under court-ordered guardianship where a court has revoked your voting rights
- Not have been declared legally incompetent by a court of law
- Have any felony convection record discharged, expired or completed.
Why did polling places change?
Because this is a special election, polling places have been centralized to 13 locations at a cost savings to the taxpayer of an estimated $85,000. You may find your polling place at: http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.
How does District 742 manage taxpayer money?
ISD 742 has a history of being wise fiscal stewards and of strong financial management, which has been independently verified:
- Strong Credit Rating (Aa3 from Moody's Investor Services)
- Unqualified "Clean" Financial Audit according to independent financial auditors
- Strong Financial Reserves in alignment with district policy and governmental accounting standards
- Low debt usage relative to allowable debt under state statute
- View the District’s Budget and Audited Financial Statements at: http://www.isd742.org/domain/26
Why don’t all homeowners incur the same rate of estimated tax increase?
The estimated tax capacity rate for the district’s proposed bond issue in 2016 is the same for all properties and is based on the overall bond amount, not individual properties. However, the actual distribution of taxes among property owners is determined by state law. For a bond issue, the taxes on individual parcels of property are calculated based on a figure called “Net Tax Capacity,” which is calculated using a percentage of the home’s Estimated Market Value. (See the tax calculator.)
What happens to my property taxes if the referendum is approved?
If the referendum is approved, the estimated tax impact on a $150,000 valued home would be $218.35, or $18.20 a month. The impact may be greater or lesser depending on a home’s value. To determine the exact tax impact amount for your home by parcel number, go to the tax calculator.
What Happens to the old Tech High School?
Tech will be sold, along with the Media Services building. ISD 742 has been in conversation with the City of St. Cloud on possible development on the site, but until the referendum passes, Tech cannot be put on the market because of the 1400 students who currently attend high school in the building.
Are the costs of additional education buildings such as the old Roosevelt site and/or the Clark Field site going to be added to our taxes on top of the referendum?
No, those buildings are not a part of the referendum, not will they increase taxes already levied for the projects.