Why is District 742 asking for a referendum vote in 2016?
The need to replace Tech and renovate Apollo is urgent. Our children and grandchildren will work in many careers throughout their lifetimes. They need to learn not only how to acquire knowledge, but how to apply what they know. In addition, our students need be able to think critically, problem solve, communicate effectively and work collaboratively in a team. New facilities will enable District 742 to better foster curiosity and a love of lifelong learning by engaging students in active, hands-on educational opportunities.
What are the questions on the ballot?
The community told us they wanted options on the ballot and the 2015 costs were too high. We listened. This year, we are asking for $143.25 million which is 14% less than we requested last year, but still respects the 21st century learning opportunities we want to provide for our students.
Community members will be asked to vote on two questions on November 8:
2015 2016 1 Build a new Technical High School in South St. Cloud $113.8 Million $104.5 million 2 Invest in updating Apollo High School $46.5 million $38.75 million
$160.3 million *
$143.25 million **
Voters must approve Question 1 in order for Question 2 to pass.
*The 2015 referendum also included technology and safety/security upgrades for a total cost of
**This figure includes borrowing costs.
How will a successful referendum impact my taxes?
Property taxes on a $150,000 home will be $155.84 per year if both questions are successful. The total additional tax is $12.99 per month for all students in District 742 to have access to 21st century learning opportunities. The tax calculator on our website can provide tax information for your property.
Why did you separate Tech and Apollo facilities into two questions on the ballot?
Our community asked for choice on the ballot questions. We listened. While it is critical to provide safe and flexible learning environments at both Tech and Apollo High Schools to support 21st century education, Tech has potential health and safety risks that urgently need to be addressed.
However, our children/grandchildren who attend Apollo need to have access to the same opportunities as their Southside peers. A $150,000 homeowner would see a property tax increase of $12.99 per month to build 21st century learning facilities for all of the children in our community. The difference between passing question 1 alone versus passing both questions is about $4 per month.
In what ways have you gathered community input since the last referendum?
In January and February, District 742 officials conducted 16 listening sessions throughout the community which were split between supporters and non-supporters. We formed an Advisory Group of business and civic leaders, both referendum supporters and non-supporters alike. This group was asked to analyze the feedback, identify common themes and make recommendations to the district. The Advisory Group continued to work on identified issues through June. Sub-committees from the Advisory Group formed to:
Review the decision to build a new Technical High School at the 33rd Street site.
Develop a plan to repurpose the current Tech if the 2016 referendum passes.
Re-examine the referendum structure.
Share the educational vision of the district.
Build the district’s brand through innovative and dynamic public relations.
What will happen at the current Technical High School if voters approve Question 1?
We propose that the District Offices and Welcome Center will move into the original portions of Technical High School – those considered to be historic (1917 & 1938 structures). These moves will preserve a school district presence in this part of our community, a key request of the neighborhood and broader community. It will also allow Apollo High School to have access to additional learning spaces greatly needed for students.
The remaining portions of the building, and the Media Services site, will be put up for sale. The school district has control over the future of this site, and will only sell to entities that will develop the site in a manner that is compatible with the neighborhood. The district will remain in partnership with the neighborhood and the City of St. Cloud, and together will identify what those compatible uses would be.
How much will the remodel for the District Administrative Offices and Welcome Center cost and how will you fund it?
Early estimates indicate the remodel will cost between $8 and $12 million. The district will pay for this project through a variety of funding sources including insurance proceeds, sale of properties and Long Term Facilities Maintenance funds.
Why can you repurpose Tech High School for office space when others have recommended it not be remodeled for educational use?
Using Tech High School for the District Administration Offices (DAO) and Welcome Center for office use is significantly different than preserving it for educational purposes for students. The size and scope of the two projects are vastly different.
· The DAO/Welcome center will encompass approximately 68,000 square feet of office space vs. nearly 440,000 square feet that would comprise the high school.
· Building codes are significantly different for office space than for schools. In addition, the multiple small spaces available in these portions of Tech are more easily adapted to office space than for flexible learning environments.
· The $149 million renovation cost includes significant resources to purchase and demolish 27 neighborhood properties to meet current parking requirements. While this remodeling figure did include renovating Clark Field, it did not include development of other onsite extra-curricular facilities that would require more land acquisition and considerable additional costs.
Why do experts recommend building a new Tech High School rather than remodel the current facility?
The cost to renovate Technical High School to provide equivalent facilities of a newly constructed building is 43.5% higher. The new facility would cost $104.5 million (including borrowing costs) compared to $149 million to renovate Tech.
The $104.5 million new facility costs include funding for a comprehensive high school campus including onsite facilities for extra-curricular activities. The $149 million renovation cost does not include funding for extra-curricular facilities. Students would still need to be transported to offsite facilities for many after school activities or the district would need to incur significant expenditures to develop the site to accommodate these activities on campus (including additional property acquisition).
How do I know the $149 million estimate is accurate?
In January 2016, two independent contractors reviewed the 2014 estimated cost to renovate Technical High School as an equivalent to a new facility. W. Gohman Construction Managers affirmed that the estimate provided by Cunningham Group is within an acceptable range of projected cost. R.A. Morton Construction Managers stated that the cost to replace general maintenance items would be $78 million and did not include cost estimates for the educational facility remodel. R. A. Morton confirmed that Tech has “gracefully outlived” its life as an educational facility. Full details about the cost estimates are on the District 742 website on the Referendum 2016 page.
Is moving the District Administration Offices (DAO) and Welcome Center to this site a financially sound choice?
Yes. The construction and existing types of spaces available in the oldest portions of Tech make remodeling this space to accommodate DAO and the Welcome Center a sound financial decision. The exterior walls, foundation system and roof and floor structures are already in place and can be used for this type of occupancy. This will reduce the cost for those features in new construction. While the building would likely need new mechanical and electrical systems, new construction would require those systems as well. Accessibility is still an issue for this portion of the building, but there are fewer levels to connect than in the building as a whole. This will make creating full accessibility more feasible.
Thinking beyond the actual building, we also considered available infrastructure. The property is already owned by the district so there is no cost for land acquisition. Utilities are also readily available at the site. While some additional parking will be needed to support the DAO and Welcome Center, it would be cost-prohibitive to create an optimal parking situation for a high school given the existing options.
What happens to the current Tech High School site if question 2 does not pass?
With the Board of Education’s support, we plan to relocate the district offices and Welcome Center at the old Tech High School site even if question 2 doesn’t pass. Apollo High School needs the space that our district offices currently occupy for educational spaces for students. We believe that the current Tech site is a great place for the Welcome Center and the District Administrative Offices because it is centrally located and maintains a district presence in that vital neighborhood.
Who is on the Tech repurposing committee?
The Advisory Group confirmed a new Tech is the best return on investment. The members are:
Teresa Bohnen, president of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce;
Patti Gartland, president of the Greater St. Cloud Area Development Corporation;
Mike Gohman, owner of W Gohman Construction;
Henry Gruber, owner of Hank’s Hauser;
Willie Jett, superintendent of District 742 Schools;
Dave Kleis, mayor of St. Cloud;
Dennis Whipple, District 742 board member.
What is happening with Clark Field?
The district is partnering with Friends of Clark Field and the City of St. Cloud to ensure that Clark Field would remain as green space for future generations.
Why can Sartell build a high school for less?
The new Sartell High School is planned for 1350 students. Our building will accommodate 1600 students. District 742’s building will accommodate 18.5% more students and cost 16.7% more.