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Building plans for Brainerd schools ISD 181 final: Now it's up to voters in April

Brainerd School Board members listen Monday as Superintendent Laine Larson goes over the presentation of the facilities plan. The board approved the plan. Jennifer Stockinger / Brainerd Dispatch

The Brainerd School District now has a plan to take to its voters.

The Brainerd School Board Monday unanimously approved the final comprehensive facilities plan, which proposes building a new Baxter Elementary School, repurposing all six elementary schools and spending about $79 million to remodel the Brainerd High School north campus.

The school district spent three and a half years developing a facilities plan with the goal to meet the health, safety and education adequacy needs of all the district's schools. The district hosted public listening sessions at all its schools earlier this year and met with all the staff before coming to the final plan decision.

Superintendent Laine Larson thanked the board and staff for all their hard work in coming up with the best plan, a plan the district has been calling "Blueprint 181." The district will have to submit a finalized detailed document called the "Review and Comment" to the Minnesota Department of Education by Jan. 10.

The facilities plan may be final, but will not be a reality unless the plan is approved by the school district voters. The board already set a special election date of April 10. The board approved the administration's recommendation of going to the public with three ballot questions, which involve improvements to all the elementary and secondary school buildings and the addition of a performing arts center, for an estimated total cost of $204 million. Voters will not have to pay the entire amount. The voter-approved portion would be $145.8 million, if approved.

The three ballot questions broken down will be:

• Question 1: Investing in the elementary school buildings and Early Childhood Family Education program for a total cost of $104 million; voter-approved cost is $68.4 million.

• Question 2: Investing in the secondary buildings for a total cost of $93 million; voter-approved cost is $69.4 million.

• Question 3: Investing in a performing arts center for a total cost of $8 million, which would be fully supported by voter-approved dollars.

The third question is contingent on the second question passing; meaning if Question 2 fails, so does the third.

Question 1

The $104 million breakdown:

• New Baxter Elementary School: $26 million.

• Baxter Early Childhood Hub: $5 million. (The hub would serve as the main location for early childhood offices and classrooms.)

• Garfield Elementary School: $11 million.

• Harrison Elementary School: $19 million.

• Lowell Elementary School: $13 million.

• Nisswa Elementary School: $12 million.

• Riverside Elementary School: $13 million.

• Renew Washington Educational Services Building: $5 million.

Question 2

The $93 million breakdown:

• Brainerd High School—South Campus: $11 million.

• Brainerd High School—North Campus: $79 million.

• Forestview Middle School: $1.5 million.

• Brainerd Learning Center: $1 million.

• Lincoln Education Center demolition: $500,000.

Question 3

• $8 million for an improved performing arts center at BHS, going from a 950-seat arts center to 1,200 seats.

The tax impact of the three ballot questions for a current median home value of $156,200 in Crow Wing County is $36 per year for Question 1, $39 per year for Question 2 and $12 per year for Question 3—for a total of $87 a year. This would be the tax increase from taxes payable in 2018 to taxes payable in 2019.

The tax impact for a current median commercial property value of $219,900 in Crow Wing County is $99 per year for Question 1, $106 per year for Question 2 and $33 per year for Question 3—for a total of $238 per year.

According to the district, if the building plan is approved, the debt would be paid off at the end of 2042. The existing debt the school has would be paid off in 2030.

The board also approved the precincts and polling places for the upcoming 2018 school district election. By law, the board may establish a combined polling place for several precincts for school district elections not on the day of a statewide election. Each combined polling place must be a polling place designated by a county or municipality.

Combined polling places for school election

• Baxter 1, Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 6190 Fairview Road, Baxter, for residents in Baxter's Precinct 1 East and West.

• Baxter 2, Heritage Assembly of God, 13242 Berrywood Drive, Baxter, Baxter's Precinct 2 East and West.

• Brainerd Ward 1, Trinity Lutheran Church, 1420 S. Sixth St., Brainerd, Ward 1, Precinct 1 and 2.

• Brainerd Ward 2, Riverside Elementary School, 220 NW Third St., Brainerd, Brainerd Ward 2 Precinct 1 and 2.

• Brainerd Ward 3, Lowell Elementary School, 704 NE Third Ave., Brainerd, Brainerd Ward 3 Precinct 1, 2 and 3.

• Brainerd Ward 4, Harrison Elementary School, 1515 Oak St., Brainerd, Brainerd Ward 4 Precinct 1 and 2.

• Fort Ripley city and township and Crow Wing Township, Crow Wing Town Hall, 10069 South Oaks Road, Brainerd.

• Garrison city and township and Maple Grove Township, Garrison Town Hall, 10701 Bollenbacher Road, Garrison.

• Nisswa, Lake Shore and Home Brook Township in Cass County, Nisswa City Hall, 5442 City Hall St., Nisswa.

• Bay Lake, Nokay Lake and Oak Lawn townships, Oak Lawn Town Hall, 12404 Highway 18, Brainerd.

• Center and Lake Edward townships, Lake Edward Town Hall, 23977 County Highway 4, Nisswa.

• Daggett Brook, Long Lake, Roosevelt and Platte Lake townships, Daggett Brook Town Hall, 14074 County Highway 2, Brainerd.

• St. Mathias, Morrison County's Platte and Lake townships, St. Mathias Community Center, 4548 County Road 121, Brainerd, which includes Unorganized Territory.

• Unorganized (Red and White), East Gull Lake in Cass County, Living Word North Church, 16314 Highway 371, Brainerd.

• Unorganized (Blue), The Church on the Wise Road, 10345 Wise Road, Brainerd.

The polling places will be open 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

The board also approved a contract between the school district and Crow Wing County on election services. In the contract, the district will pay $26,500 to the county for the 2018 special school election. The amount will pay for the cost of postage associated with election activities, including absentee voting, replacement ballots, and election materials including absentee voting envelopes and polling location forms/supplies.