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Pine River-Backus Schools: $16.2 million in projects outlined - Feedback meetings scheduled

Graphic: Kodet Architectural Group1 / 5
Graphic: Kodet Architectural Group2 / 5
Graphic: Kodet Architectural Group3 / 5
Graphic: Kodet Architectural Group4 / 5
Graphic: Kodet Architectural Group5 / 5

The Pine River-Backus School Board's proposed $16.2 million bond referendum would fund six projects. The board will host four community feedback sessions in the next four months for input on the following proposals:

  • Career-technical spaces for $1.97 million: This project would renovate and expand the existing industrial tech classrooms and enhance CTE courses with new space and equipment.
  • High school media center renovations for $597,625: This project would renovate the high school media center to add collaborative work spaces and small group study spaces following modern designs.
  • Auditorium for $10.63 million: This project would create a dedicated performing arts theater with stage, lighting and sound. The space would include band and choir space. This would open the existing band and choir rooms for high school classroom space and a potentially expanded nurse's office.
  • High school gym renovations for $1.1 million: This project is designed to provide much needed repairs and renovations to the high school gym, including replacement of the metal structural ceiling and bleachers and painting of the walls and floors.
  • Football/track upgrades for $865,400: This project would replace the existing concession stand and storage building with a new building containing concessions, storage, a ticket booth and restrooms. A new entryway sign would showcase "The Home of the Tigers."
  • Outdoor storage buildings for $1.1 million: This project is designed to expand storage to meet the needs of transportation, athletics, maintenance and furniture storage, among others.

No action has been taken on the proposed bond referendum so far with exception of a telephone survey performed by the Morris Leatherman Company. The phone survey contacted 400 random district voters to gauge the level of support for the projects and tax capacity for local taxpayers. The majority of the results were positive.

In the survey, 64 percent of respondents considered the district's quality to be good and 16 percent considered the quality excellent. While 28 percent felt they had no tolerance for a bond referendum that may result in a tax increase, most participants were open to a monthly tax increase of some sort.

Of those surveyed, 58 percent reported some tolerance with 11 percent tolerating a $3 per month increase; 13 percent, $6/month increase; 16 percent, $9/month increase; 10 percent, $12/month increase; 5 percent, $15/month increase; 2 percent, $18/month increase; and 1 percent, more than $18/month increase.

Of the projects, the high school gymnasium and football field improvements received the least support, though at the time of the survey those improvements were less defined

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Community meetings

Feedback sessions will be held at 5:30 p.m. on the following days n the Pine River-Backus High School Media Center:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 15.
  • Thursday, Feb. 7.
  • Tuesday, March 5.
  • Thursday, April 18.

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In addition, a majority of participants considered the improvements a good idea, considered the price fair and supported the referendum to some degree. Thirty-seven percent opposed or strongly opposed the referendum.

Asked about the tax impact of a potential $16 million bond during the Oct. 15 regular school board meeting, Business Manager Jolene Bengtson said the owner of a $100,000 home would see a monthly property tax increase of approximately $5, or $60 per year for 20 years. The owner of a $200,000 home would see a monthly increase of approximately $12.50, or $151 per year for 20 years.

Full survey results are available at buildings.prbschools.org/. Additional information on the projects, including mockups, can be seen at https://sites.google.com/prbschools.org/buildings.