Crosby-Ironton School District: Referendum info sessions a bust month before election
The Crosby-Ironton School District's referendum will go to a vote in a month, but administrators are concerned if the information has reached enough voters, as no one from the public showed up to two recent information sessions.
After no one from the public showed up to either of two information sessions on the Crosby-Ironton School District’s upcoming referendum, administrators hope voters have all the facts they need to make an informed decision.
Superintendent Jamie Skjeveland said he was surprised no one came to get information, as he and other administrators stood ready at Cuyuna Range Elementary School Thursday, Oct. 3, with posters and fact sheets about the referendum.
Skjeveland and his team closed up shop about 20 minutes after the session was supposed to start Thursday.
Monday’s session was a similar story, with one person -- the spouse of a school board member -- showing up at 7:30 p.m., as administrators were shutting things down.
Skjeveland said he hasn’t heard any negative comments about the referendum, which will have little to no financial impact on taxpayers if approved during the Nov. 5 election.
If the $29.56 million referendum passes, changes at Cuyuna Range Elementary School include renovations of third through sixth grade classrooms, reconfiguration of the performing arts center, updates to the media center and a revamp of the drop-off area outside.
The school was built in 1988 with an open concept style, meaning the classrooms for each grade level were built in pods around a common learning space without doors. A few years ago, the district remodeled the kindergarten, first and second grade rooms, adding hallways and doors to mitigate noise traveling from classroom to classroom.
Skjeveland said that design has proved successful, and if the referendum passes, the rest of the elementary rooms will see the same updated design.
The doors to the performing arts center would move closer to the school entrance for easier access, and Skjeveland said the media center is in need of updates to bring it into the 21st century.
Outside, the bus drop-off loop would remain where it is but also turn into an overflow parking lot for special events, and the baseball field would see new dugouts and chainlink fence.
Various parts of Crosby-Ironton High School date back to the 1930s, ‘50s, ‘70s and ‘80s, with the newest additions built in 2005.
Plans for upgrades include more inviting colors in the mostly beige building, a collaborative space for students to work together on projects or just hang out, and a major renovation of the library, which Skjeveland said barely gets used as it stands.
The library would turn into a makerspace, with areas for fabrication labs, mechatronics, 3-D printing and other modern technology. Mechatronic engineering combines the fundamentals of mechanical, electrical and computer science to develop autonomous systems.
The library’s books would be redistributed to other areas of the school, with books on specific subjects kept together and placed in or near the corresponding classrooms.
Designers have also explored a coffee shop of sorts in the library to offer beverages for students.
The career and technical education area would see major updates as well, as much as the equipment in the woodworking, metals and automotive shops date back to the 1970s or ‘80s.
In the athletic areas, the Woock gym would likely see either the removal or remodeling of the bottom level of the bleachers, which is a soft cushion material that Skjeveland said is odd to step on while walking up the bleachers and juts out very close to the sidelines during basketball games.
The high school’s cafeteria would be remodeled into a more inviting space for families and visitors to spend time during weekend events, like sports tournaments.
Lastly, if the referendum passes, the trophy cases at the high school would essentially cease to exist, with a plan to replace them with interactive touch screens for curious alumni to look up statistics from all the past sports teams -- wins, losses, championship titles -- and see virtual renderings of the trophies and awards.
As for the physical trophies, Skjeveland said he would reach out to alumni to see if there’s any interest in keeping the awards.
If the referendum passes, property taxes will remain unchanged for many residents and will increase a little for other residents and business owners.
The estimated property tax difference are as follows:
Residential up to $349,000: No change.
Residential between $350,000-$500,000: Increase about $0.08 a month, or $1 a year.
Commercial up to $300,000: Increase about $0.08 a month, or $1 a year.
Commercial, $500,000: Increase about $0.16 a month or $2 a year.
Commercial, $1 million: Increase about $0.33 a month, or $4 a year.
Seasonal up to $200,000: No change.
Seasonal between $300,000-$500,000: Increase about $0.08 a month, or $1 a year.
Seasonal between $750,000-$1 million: Increase about $0.16 a month, or $2 a year.
Agricultural properties would see increases of less than $1 a year, with homesteads valued at $6,000 per acre increasing $0.15 a year and non-homesteads of the same value increasing about $0.30 a year. A tax impact calculator is available at www.ehlers-inc.com/microsite/crosbyironton2019 .
The reason the tax change is minimal is because taxpayers are still paying off the 2002 bond referendum, in which voters approved funds over 20 years to build the new portions of the high school, which were finished in 2005. The remaining debt from that measure -- which expires in 2023, would be refinanced and absorbed into the new referendum, keeping property tax rates consistent with the past 17 years.
Early voting opened Sept. 20 and goes until Nov. 4. Residents can vote early in person between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Crow Wing County Finance Office, 326 Laurel St., Brainerd. Early voting will also be offered 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2.
Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 5 at Crosby City Hall, Deerwood Town Hall, Emily City Hall and Mission Town Hall. Residents can find their polling place at pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us .
For updates and more information on the referendum, visit www.ci.k12.mn.us/referendum , follow the school district on Facebook or Twitter, or contact Skjeveland at 218-545-8800 or email@example.com .