What is included in the November 6th Referendum?

Local residents will vote on three questions.

  • Question #1 authorizes $11.195 Million for various deferred maintenance, security, technology, and Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment improvements at Magelssen Elementary, the High School, and the bus garage.

  • Question #2 authorizes $7.975 Million for the renovation/modernization of the existing High School science department, dedicated loading/unloading zone at Magelssen Elementary, parking improvements, office staff relocation adjacent to new parking for a single, secured entry point, playground ADA improvements, re-purposing of the existing office space, and a six-classroom addition to accommodate the displaced High School classrooms and to provide adequate space for all existing Elementary programming. Question #2 is contingent on the passage of Question #1.

  • Question #3 authorizes $1 Million for critical facility-related improvements at the Old Gymnasium to allow for continued use. Question #3 is contingent on the passage of Question #1.

What is the cost of the proposed plan?

The cost of the entire plan, for all three questions, is $20.17 Million, which includes $11.195 Million for Question #1, $7.975 Million for Question #2, and $1.0 Million for Question #3. 

Why are these improvements needed?

Both Magelssen Elementary and the High School require critical facility-related improvements. A majority of the roof systems at Magelssen and the High School have reached the end of their useful lives and cause ongoing leak issues, and the building exteriors are in need of maintenance. Currently, there are 29 exterior doors that have the potential to be security risks. These improvements would address this safety concern. The additional improvements would address programmatic space needs due to evolving program needs and technology changes within education. And, to continue the use of the Old Gymnasium, critical improvements need to be made for an adequate and safe facility. 

What will be the impact to my taxes if all the questions pass?

Every resident’s tax situation is different. However, for a person who owns a $100,000 house, Question #1 will result in an increase of $122.23/year compared to this year’s taxes. Question #2 will result in an increase of $91.32/year, and Question #3 will result in an increase of $11.09/year. Overall, for a person who owns a $100,000 house, the monthly increase would be $18.72 if all three questions pass. To find out your impact, click here.

Why isn’t the tax impact of a $100,000 home double the cost of a $50,000 home?

Because of the homestead market value exclusion. This exclusion began in taxes payable 2012 and replaced the homestead market value credit. The way this exclusion works is by reducing the amount of home value that is subject to tax for homestead residential properties. This reduction is not uniform for all values of homes. 

As a home’s value increases, the portion of market value eligible for exclusion phases out, and is at 0% for homes valued at more than $413,778. 

Since the exclusion phases out as the home increases in value, you cannot double the tax impact of a lesser-valued home to see the tax impact of a home that is double in value. Check out the tax impact calculator.

What’s the difference between an operating referendum levy and a bond referendum?

The main difference is that the operating referendum levy is spread on the Referendum Market Value (RMV). This means that the seasonal recreational residential (cabins) and agricultural land and building do not pay. 

The School Building Bonds Referendum levy is spread over the Net Tax Capacity (NTC). Meaning that everyone pays for this. 

What work has ISD 601 done since the last referendum?

Following the unsuccessful referendum in May 2016, ISD 601 engaged the community in a survey to better understand what needs the communities would be most likely to support. The survey was mailed to all 2,169 registered voters within the District, and a total of 701 responses were received. This feedback has been critical in helping to shape ISD 601’s current proposal. In total, the District has held 20 board work sessions with the sole intention of facility planning. ISD 601 is confident that the proposed plan is a valuable and much-needed plan for our communities. 

Why weren’t lighting and HVAC improvements completed throughout all of Magelssen Elementary and the High School? 

These areas did not meet the funding sources that were used for the 2016 project. At that time, the School Board felt it was the most advantageous to perform the updates they were able to fund without utilizing dollars that would impact the education of ISD 601’s students. 

What is the review process for the work? How does the Minnesota Department of Education get involved?

The District has provided the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) with all of the required documentation for the proposed improvements and referendum in the form of a “Review & Comment” submittal. The MDE has reviewed all submitted information to ensure the project is both fiscally sound and educationally appropriate for ISD 601. 

What are the main differences between this referendum and the last one?

For this referendum we are not looking to buy land, close streets, or add gym space. The District has spent the last two years further identifying what are needs are in terms of maintenance and educational programs. The outcome of this process is similar, but with a successful vote, will move our District into a proactive vs. reactive state in the terms of maintenance and educational space.

What is the Ag2School Tax credit and does it apply to me?

The new School Building Bond Agricultural Tax Credit (Ag2School), implemented by the state of MN in 2017, states that 40% of the costs of existing, proposed, and future construction bond issues on agricultural land will be paid for by the State.

What would happen if the referendum were to fail?

This plan is the result of the direct outcome of the months of community input, planning, and development efforts. If the referendum would fail, the District will begin the planning process again to determine the next appropriate course of action. What we can say is the needs will not go away. Physical conditions will continue to age, or in some cases deteriorate, and the District will need to find some way to address those issues. 

Additionally, the time to address these issues is now, as the costs will only increase with time. 

How do I submit questions, comments and concerns about the referendum?

We welcome all comments, questions, and feedback about the proposed referendum. Questions and comments can be submitted on the Contact Us page, or by contacting Superintendent Kevin Ricke at kricke@isd601.org or 218.435.6335. Additional resources about the proposed referendum can be found on the Resources page as well. 

What does “One Purpose One Vision” mean for this referendum?

“One Purpose One Vision” means to strive to provide safe, healthy, and dynamic educational facilities for our students.

What happens to the old gym if these improvements are not done?

The 1937 gym needs work such as tuck-pointing, window and door replacement. These components have been ineffective and failing for quite some time. If we do not correct these items, the building will continue to have water intrusion, which will rapidly cause further deterioration to the structure and finishes. If Question #3 of the referendum is successful, we will be able to perform work on the building exterior, main floor finishes (ceilings/walls) and the gym floor. This upgrade will allow us to continue to use the main floor for the foreseeable future. If this question does not pass, we will have to re-evaluate the District’s LTFM plan to see if dollars can be allocated to this portion of the building to continue its use.

If the referendum is successful, how long would the debt last?

Upon a successful referendum, the District will issue General Obligation Building Bonds that are structured to be paid in full over 20 years.

Why is the Science renovation tied to additional elementary space in Question #2?

The renovation and modernization of the existing science department will require an expansion to maximize the use of each classroom’s learning environment and hands-on laboratory space. With this expansion, existing High School classrooms will be displaced. The viable option for these spaces is located adjacent to the cafeteria in rooms that are currently being utilized by the early childhood programs. Within the existing foot-print of both facilities, there would not be a home for the existing early childhood classrooms. It is through much thought and consideration that the Board has decided to combine the science modernization with additional elementary space.

Why are up to 6 classrooms needed at Magelssen Elementary?

In our current elementary building we are utilizing every possible space that is available. Today, our teachers are using places for teaching that were not designed for learning including conference rooms, stage, storage areas, hallways, the cafeteria, and the foyer.

Additional space would put our learners in environments that were designed for learning in mind. Additionally, with a successful Q2, our two current early childhood classrooms housed at the high school will be displaced. The remaining classrooms will allow us to expand our early childhood programs and provide more offerings for our community.

Is the 40% tax credit guaranteed to be in place for the entire 20 years?

There are several organizations that represent MN school districts with the belief that the Ag2School bond credits are here to stay. These organizations include the Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA), which represents 225 school districts across Minnesota at the capital, and Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA), which represents all 331 school districts. Ag2School is a permanent law that is currently existing into perpetuity. Repealing or reducing the credit would mean a vote for raising taxes on the backs of rural Minnesota farmers, which is not politically appealing.

When financing building improvements or additions to schools with a bond referendum, can the District cap the amount of land that is impacted?

No, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 475, debt service levies for voter-approved General Obligation School Building Bonds are spread on the District’s entire Net Tax Capacity. All taxable property types are taxed with the voter-approved debt service levy and there is no mechanism available through Minnesota Statutes that would allow a District to cap to the amount of land that is taxed.