Building Bond Referendum

WCA Building Bond Referendum Information Flyer


WCA Building Bond Referendum Information Video (Full Video)


Building Bond Referendum Question #1 Information Video


Building Bond Referendum Question #2 Information Video



Building Bond Referendum Question #3 Information Video



If you would like to view the presentation shown at the meetings CLICK HERE



WCA Building Bond Referendum Information Community Meeting in Hoffman



WCA Building Bond Referendum Information Community Meeting in Elbow Lake


WCA Building Bond Referendum Information Community Meeting in Kensington


WCA Building Bond Referendum Information Community Meeting in Wendell


WCA Building Bond Referendum Information Community Meeting in Wendell


West Central Area Schools

Serving the communities of Barrett, Elbow Lake, Hoffman, Kensington & Wendell

 

 

October 15, 2021

 

Greetings WCA Families:

 

The WCA Board of Education has concluded their schedule of five Informational Meetings for the Building Bond Referendum.  Video recordings of the meetings and many other sources of information are available on the District website.  During the five informational meetings, similar questions have been asked and Board members have fielded other common questions in their conversations with individuals or other small groups.

 

Several of the most commonly asked, and pertinent, questions are answered below.

 

Q: Will the city of Hoffman residents see an additional tax increase as a result of the bond referendum? A: No. City water and sewer lines already exist at the location of the proposed new South Elementary site. Water, sewer, and power from these existing lines to the new building is included in the proposed bond costs. 

Q: Does the city of Hoffman have the water and sewer capacity to add a school or will that need to be updated?  A: An update is not needed, they have the capacity to add the school within their current infrastructure.

Q: Is Hoffman going to put in sidewalks if this passes? A: Sidewalks on school property are included in the total bond cost. 

Q: When was the last time our school district had a significant tax increase?  A: Voters approved an Operating Levy increase from $1,370 per pupil to the current level of $1,851 in 2014.  The most recent operating levy was a “revoke and renew” meaning the per pupil amount of $1,851 remained the same as the last operating levy.

Q: When was the building bond for the Secondary School referendum paid off?  A: February of 2014.

Q: How do you think the upcoming operating levy will be affected by this referendum passing or not passing?  A: WCA has had a balanced budget of approximately $10M per year. With the proposed referendum, the renovation/addition at North Elementary, the new South Elementary, and the secondary school program expansions (such as ag, shop space, STEAM space, fitness center and tennis court renovation) do not increase the number of staff members needed for the programs we currently have, but provide needed space for the programs we have that are growing.  The District has estbliche a modest General Fund Balance and a proposal to renew the existing amount, without an increase, is anticipated.

Q: The levy expires next year - will it be raised then? A: The existing levy expires in two years, however the Board of Education will often propose to place the levy referendum on ballots in year four of a five year levy to allow for two opportunities to pass the levy referendum before expiration of the existing levy.  We are not anticipating anything more than a modest increase in General Fund expenses so an Operating Levy increase is unlikely.

Q: Is it true that the district has one of the highest operating levies?  A: Yes, WCA does have a high operating levy in comparison to some of the other districts in our state, but that is something the taxpayers have supported to maintain our programs, opportunities, and high level of accomplishment.

Q: What will the cost per acre be for farmers after the AAg2School credit and with interest of the bond included? For ag land valued at $6,000 per acre, if all three questions were to pass, the tax impact would be $2.88 per acre for land classified as ag homestead and $5.75 per acre for land classified as ag non-homestead for taxes payable in 2022. The Ag2School credit increases from 60% to 70% next year, so for taxes payable in 2023, the cost per acre will decrease from $2.88 to $2.16 for ag homestead and will decrease from $5.75 to $4.31 for ag non-homestead land valued at $6,000 per acre. Examples of per acre cost for $5,000, $6,000 and $7,000 acre values can be found on the school website or in the printed information brochure that was mailed out.

Q: How many students are at WCA South Elementary, K-5? A: Hoffman has 72 students within 1 mile, 140 students within 7 miles, and 178 students within 10 miles. Kensington has 19 students within 1 mile, 129 students within 7 miles, and 145 students within 10 miles.

Q: Would the new elementary house all pre-k through 5th grade and if so, why is the square footage required smaller than the total of Elbow Lake?  A: WCA South Elementary would house pre-k through 5th grade students. South Elementary requires less square footage than North Elementary due to the number of students that attend each respective school.  There are space efficiencies obtained with new construction that are not attainable with renovation.

Q: If 5th grade moves to elementary, what happens with empty classrooms at the secondary school? A: Currently, all classroom space at the secondary school is occupied. With moving 5th grade back to the elementary level, we are able to accommodate larger class sizes in the future by allowing some classrooms to become flex classrooms at the secondary school.  One of our Vocational Agriculture classrooms is a small converted meeting/storage room.  Our Special Education space in undersized and will utilize a classroom to alleviate crowed conditions. 

Q: Has the district received approval from MDE to proceed as of yet? A: Yes, WCA has received a positive Review and Comment from the Minnesota Department of Education.

Q: What is the cost to delay the project? A: The cost to delay will likely result in a 3-5% inflation cost increase for each year the project is delayed. 

Q: What is the cost for fixtures, furniture and equipment for a project like this? A: Equipment and technology are budgeted at approximately 4-5% of total project costs. 3% is budgeted for fixtures, furnishings and equipment and 1-2% for technology.

Q: Will the old portion of Elbow Lake North match or pair well with the new portion or will it be just “good enough”? A: The extensive renovation will ensure that new and renovated parts of the building look alike.  The new additions will blend well with the existing structure.

Q: Do the schools have to be ADA compliant by 2032?  A: Minnesota Accessibility Code Section 1341.0305.7 requires 20% of a primary function area (such as classrooms, gymnasiums, etc.) renovation project budget to be spent on ADA improvements. This includes a project with a building addition.  All renovation and new construction must be fully ADA compliant.

Q: Is there an ability to add on to the south building if needed?  A: With the new site in Hoffman, yes. Both North and South floor plans accommodation additions should there need to be in the future.

Q: Can you explain the need for more bathrooms in both elementary schools? A: With the proposed plan, bathrooms would exist in classrooms for our 3- and 4-year-old programs, and also in our special education areas so students with higher needs have a bathroom available and easily accessible to them.  The number of spaces are determined by State code and are based on occupancy levels.

Q: What is STEAM? A: STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Designated STEAM spaces allow opportunity for collaboration - whether it’s in one grade level or among multiple grade levels, for collaborative, large scale projects. Some of this is happening within existing classrooms now, but some classrooms are very tight on space and collaborative work becomes difficult in addition to finding space to store projects in progress by students. 

Q: Can you further explain the Vo Tech expansion at the secondary school? A: The VoTech expansion would be built onto the current Vo/Ag and IT area – it’s currently 3600 sq ft, and will be added to the outside wall of the current space. The additional space will allow for expansion of our metal fabrication and mechanics programs to allow for multiple large-scale projects to occur at one time - for example a tractor restoration project that is occurring simultaneously with a large welding project like a trailer.  

Q: Is the ball field complex land on a signed purchase agreement? A: Yes.  The purchase agreement is contingent on a successful bond/vote.

Q: Was there consideration of Kensington’s offer to pay for water and sewer to a new site located in Kensington? A: Yes

Q: Please confirm dates that these original school buildings were built. A: South construction dates were in 1955, 1957, and 1970.  North:  The sections proposed for demolition were constructed in 1936 and the early 1950’s.  The gym section and surrounding areas planned for renovation were constructed in 1966.

Q:  The City of Kensington contracted with others to complete an inspection of South Elementary.  Has the Board seen the report?  A:  Yes.  A Building Assessment Report completed by Engan and Associates was made available to the WCA Board members and superintendent.  The assessment identified many of the same conditions that the Board was aware of through prior assessments.  The report was also reviewed by the District’s architects and construction manager.  Upon a quick review, they cited many missing components.  Most notably, there was no mention of replacing plumbing that is likely original, grading for drainage, sidewalk replacement, no space allocation for HVAC ductwork and air handling equipment and there were items mentioned in the report that were not included in the cost summary. 

Q:  How do renovation cost projections compare to new construction cost projections? A: Remember, renovation alone does not address current and future academic and program needs.  The construction cost of a 22,318 sf addition is projected to cost $5,914,270.  When new construction costs for an addition are added to renovation cost projections; it was found that Unesco’s 2018 projection is 87% of the cost of new construction, ZBA estimates will be 72% of new construction and Engan’s projection is 67% of new construction.  A spreadsheet for the comparison is provided on the District website.      

Q:  How were academic and program space needs determined when planning for elementary school improvements?  ZBA architects met with elementary administrators, selected elementary staff, and Board representatives.

Q:  The school district was offered land to build a new South Elementary in both Kensington and Hoffman.  Why did the District reject those offers?  A:  Board members reviewed District student population data and student residence location.   They considered geographical proximity of the cities within the District.  They also reviewed community data including percentage of increase in property valuations, population, and commercial parcels.  It was determined that a Hoffman location would be preferred.  As Board members discussed various sites in both communities; they considered topography, proximity to residences that are within reasonable walking distance, existing street access, access to utilities, site size, and value in comparison to other sites.  The Board determined the chosen Hoffman site location offered multiple logistical and financial advantages and negotiations were initiated for the development of a purchase agreement with the property.

West Central Area Schools

Serving the communities of Barrett, Elbow Lake, Hoffman, Kensington & Wendell

 

October 8, 2021

Greetings WCA Families:

West Central Area’s Board of Education has spent over three years evaluating data and facility options and has unanimously agreed to address academic, program needs, and facility improvements with the three question ballot. Explanations of the three ballot questions and the primary reasons supporting the proposals have been provided in prior issues of the Grant County Herald, an informational brochure, in five public informational meetings and on the District’s website. Printed elsewhere in this week’s newspaper is the Description of Proposed School Construction Project that was created by the Minnesota Department of Education. MDE has provided a “Positive” Review and Comment that permits the District to move forward with the project with a simple majority of voter approval.

Mail Ballots
This Special School District Election for a Building Bond Referendum will be conducted by mail. Ballots were prepared and subsequently distributed for mailing on October 5, 2021, to all registered voters in the WCA District. Ballots have been addressed to the voter at the voter’s residence as shown on the State’s registration file and mailed on October 5th . A subsequent mailing will be completed for recently registered WCA District residents who register prior to October 12thon the State voter registration site or at their respective County Auditor’s office. After the State’s early voter registration ends on October 12th, each County Auditor will notify the District of any new registrations and they will be mailed a ballot. After October 12th, those who are not registered and wish to vote will need to apply for an Absentee Ballot.

Upon receipt of your ballot, each voter should inspect their ballot materials carefully. The instructions on how to vote a mail ballot are included. Ballots can be mailed as soon as they are completed or brought to the business office at the Secondary Building during business hours. To be counted, ballots must be received by 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 2nd . Any questions regarding voting or ballots can be directed to 320-528-7305.

We have worked diligently to provide an abundance of information that has been made available through the District office. The Board encourages you to seek accurate information through the sources identified inthe first paragraph as you consider all three ballot questions. Board members are willing to visit with you or interested groups. They want all community members to be informed. If you have not seen the District’s Informational brochure, there are additional copies available in the offices at all three school sites. Thank you for your interest and past support of the WCA schools.

Remaining Public Informational Meetings
October 11 Wendell Town Hall – 6:30 PM
October 13 Barrett – Secondary School Auditorium – 6:30 PM


West Central Area Schools

Serving the communities of Barrett, Elbow Lake, Hoffman, Kensington & Wendell

September 24, 2021

 

Greetings WCA Families:

 

Our school year continues to progress well as our number of positive COVID cases at our three sites remains low, with only one reported active case at this time.  Four of those who previously tested positive have returned to school and we have not experienced a spread within our individual classrooms or our buildings.  We will continue practice social distancing in our classrooms, encourage stay healthy practices, and staff members will monitor students for symptoms.  We encourage parents to monitor for symptoms also, keep children home when they are ill, and consider COVID testing if symptoms are COVID related. 

 

Our fall sports programs are collectively off to their best start in many years.  Summaries of their recent accomplishments can be found each week within the Sports section of the newspaper.  This is an especially exciting week for WCA students, staff, community members and alumni with September 27 through October 1 designated as Homecoming Week.  Thursday is packed with athletic events:  Our Cross Country teams participate in Fergus Falls, JV Tennis plays in Morris and the varsity team travels to Parkers Prairie.  Our C, JV, and Varsity Volleyball teams play at home with matches scheduled to begin at 5:00, 6:00 and 7:30.  The week wraps up with Homecoming activities beginning on Friday afternoon that will continue right up until the Varsity game kick-off at 6:00.  It is a great week to get together, show your school spirit and support the Knights.

 

Opportunities to learn more details about the Building Bond Referendum will begin next week as well.  The Informational Brochure for the WCA Building Bond Referendum has been distributed to mailing addresses within the WCA School District.  I encourage you to review the brochure and visit the District website ISD2342.org/building_bond_referendum to view an informational video and to access other printed documents.  A great way to gain clarity and have your questions answered is to attend one of the Public Informational meetings.  The public meetings will include a short presentation on the components of the project, project cost and tax implications along with plenty of time for attendees to ask questions.  You are encouraged to review the brochure and visit the District website prior to attending an Informational Meeting to become more familiar with the three ballot questions.

 

September (All meetings begin at 6:30 PM)

                28           Hoffman – Community Center

                29           Elbow Lake – North Elementary Gym

 

October (All meetings begin at 6:30 PM)

                4              Kensington – South Elementary Gym

                11           Wendell – Town Hall

                13           Barrett – Secondary School Auditorium

 

Election Information:  The election will be conducted by mail ballot and ballots are scheduled to be mailed to registered voters of the WCA School District during the week of October 4-8.  The Informational Brochure that was mailed to households, and is posted on the District website, provides pertinent voting information.  If you have any election questions after reading the election information, email coachs@isd2342.org.

 

West Central Area Schools

Serving the communities of Barrett, Elbow Lake, Hoffman, Kensington & Wendell

 

August 27, 2021

 

Greetings WCA Families:

 

The WCA communities, Board members and administrators took a bold step over 25 years ago when voters supported a building bond referendum to consolidate into one district with two elementary sites and a secondary school.  That progressive decision sparked the development of a high achieving and successful school district that continues today. 

 

Maintaining WCA’s positive reputation and keeping pace with educational advancements requires continued progress.  Instructional methods have evolved substantially in recent years and there has been a shift that takes instruction beyond the traditional classroom.  Implementation of technology has allowed education to become more student based and encourages students to apply what they have learned through individual and collaborative efforts.  There is also a public movement for schools to not only focus on the academic programs but to expand and offer relative opportunities in career, technical and vocational areas.  Children are enhancing their school experience through participation in co-curricular activities where they learn skills and develop traits not easily attained in the classroom.  A continually growing number of parents recognize the benefit of activities and sports as they have their children involved at younger ages.  All of these factors place a burden on the District, the staff and our facilities.

 

For nearly a decade, WCA School Board members have discussed and employed strategies to do more than simply maintain what has been accomplished.  Portions of those discussions related directly to facilities.  More recently, analysis of space and structural conditions of our three school buildings concluded that significant action was needed.  Through evaluation and consideration of academic, program and facility needs; the Board sought a fiscally responsible solution to address aspects of all three categories.  Their intent was to develop a plan for site and facility projects that will serve our District for at least the next 25 years without another building bond referendum; just as our communities did over 25 years ago.

 

The District’s Mission Statement is “To challenge and support our students, staff, and families in each person’s growth as an engaged learner and successful citizen of our community”.  WCA Board members are unified in their quest to support the Mission Statement and they recognize an opportunity exists that will be another progressive step for WCA.  A building bond referendum has been scheduled for November 2, 2021 with three questions:

 

Question 1:  Construct a new South Elementary in Hoffman and complete work at North Elementary that includes partial demolition, renovation and new construction - $37,030,000.

 

Question 2:  Construct and equip new or expanded spaces for:  1) Career, Technical, and Vocational Education and 2) Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math - $4,870,000.

 

Question 3:  Construct an athletic complex for softball and baseball programs and renovate the current track and field area to provide competition level surfaces - $5,495,000.

 

The projected dollar amounts of the referendum questions may cause concern for some.  However, these costs are spread out over a 20-year period with a projected true interest rate of 2.32%.  We also have the advantage of Ag2School credits (60% for year one and 70% for the remaining years) for agriculture property owners.  This results in State payments for 51.2% of total project costs.  The projections provided below are the amounts after the agriculture credit is applied.

 

The WCA Board members and I encourage you to consider the benefits of the proposals as compared to costs based on the projections provided below. 

 

Projected Tax Impact on a Residence with a valuation of $100,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question

Project

Bond

Annual

Monthly

Weekly

#

 

Amount

Tax

Tax

Tax

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Elementary

$37,030,000

$134.00

$11.17

$2.58

2

HS Academic

$4,870,000

$18.00

$1.50

$0.35

3

Athletic Programs

$5,495,000

$20.00

$1.67

$0.38

All Questions

$47,395,000

$172.00

$14.33

$3.31

 

 

Projected Tax Impact on 1 Acre with a $6,000 Valuation

 

T

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question

Project

Bond

Annual

Monthly

#

 

Amount

Tax*

Tax*

 

 

 

 

 

1

Elementary

$37,030,000

$4.49

$0.374

2

HS Academic

$4,870,000

$0.59

$0.049

3

Athletic Programs

$5,495,000

$0.66

$0.055

All Questions

$47,395,000

$5.74

$0.478

 

*Projections displayed in the table reflect the actual tax impact after the Ag2School Credit is applied.

 

More project details will be provided in the Grant County Herald, the District’s website, and at a variety of public meetings.  I encourage you to look for opportunities to learn more about the proposals.  Thank you for your continued interest in and your support of the WCA District.

 

BakerTilly, the school district’s financial advisor, has created a tax calculator that will provide a tax projection based on your property valuation.


http://ptax.bakertilly.com/client/default.aspx?customer_id=vKGEJBfKm7s%3D