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Board sets February referendum date

Column: Remember to cast informed votes on District 518 questions

By JOHN LANDGAARD, District 518

WORTHINGTON — The economic health of a community is dependent on a number of things that interact on a regular basis. This is exhibited in the number of times a dollar may change hands. For example, a farmer buys seed for their field sold to them by the sales person, who then spends this dollar for gas in their vehicle — and the station then spends this dollar on repairs for their business and, in turn, the repair business pays its employee and they purchase groceries, and so on. Likewise, a school plays a vital role in the economic health of a community. The school receives its funding through federal, state and local taxpayer support. These dollars go to support our community in a variety of ways in promoting a healthy economic environment.

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The same goes for the needed support of District 518, as the growth of students and offering of opportunities are provided as a way to build future productive citizens. The district has chosen at this time to ask voters to decide on two ballot questions in the upcoming special election on Tuesday, Nov. 5, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. in the Worthington High School Auxiliary Gym.

The first question asks voters to address a building bond referendum for $38,975,000 that will provide a new intermediate school (grades 3, 4, 5), and an addition of approximately 56,000 square feet to the high school and some other remodeling. This bond referendum is an academic-based request due to instructional space needs and not an extra-curricular request. This option was developed based on more than two years of discussions and work. If this building bond referendum does not pass, it will come back during a future election with little or no change and will likely cost more due to increased interest rates as well as increased construction costs.

The second question on the ballot is for an excess operating referendum that revokes the last year of the current $1,000 per pupil referendum. This question asks voters to address a new $1,000 per pupil referendum for 10 years. This referendum question does not increase taxes (taxes would be stable or decrease in some cases). By law, the district is required to put on the ballot that you will be voting for a tax increase. This excess operating levy has become a vital piece in supporting current educational programming and would require reductions in the future (loss of staff and opportunities) if a referendum is not in place.

The bottom line for voters on Tuesday is that District 518 is requesting voters to make an informed decision on each of the questions on the ballot. The building bond question will return in the future (if it does not pass) and will likely be at a higher cost to taxpayers and the excess operating referendum will return (if it does not pass) or create a loss of student opportunities. The decision is up to you as voters of District 518.

We would like to thank all of you for the past support and want to continue to provide quality educational opportunities that will support Minnesota’s mission of developing the “World’s Best Workforce.”

John Landgaard is the superintendent of District 518.