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District 518 referendum open house is Monday

WORTHINGTON -- Independent School District 518 residents will have multiple opportunities to ask the district specific questions related to its upcoming bond proposal between now and the Feb. 13, 2018 referendum.

WORTHINGTON - Independent School District 518 residents will have multiple opportunities to ask the district specific questions related to its upcoming bond proposal between now and the Feb. 13, 2018 referendum.

The district’s first public open house is scheduled for Monday, nearly two months before residents will be asked to vote on a proposed $68.5 million new high school. Another open house is planned Jan. 23.

From 6 to 8 p.m. both evenings, the public can learn more about the proposed referendum and ask questions in the come-and-go open house format in the high school cafeteria.

“We’re trying to make it convenient for people and make sure that they have the factual information when they come and they get their questions answered,” said Superintendent John Landgaard.

School board members and school administrators will be on hand at a variety of stations during the two-hour event. Those stations include tax impact and financial information, enrollment and building capacity, the referendum proposal, additional district initiatives and master plan/future considerations or needs.

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There will also be a looping slide presentation attendees may choose to watch, and a Spanish translator will be available each evening. Comments in a comment/question section will also be received.   

Landgaard said the open houses are the first the district has offered to engage with the public before an upcoming referendum. In the past, the district used a model that included a presentation and question-and-answer period. However, there were some drawbacks to that format.

“Not everyone is comfortable asking questions in that type of environment, so some people walk away and don’t get their questions answered,” Landgaard said. “We wanted to make sure to take that out of the mix. We want people to feel comfortable, ask questions and get the information they need in a short amount of time.”

The district will also offer tours of each of the district’s facilities on Jan. 10 and 11. Conducted at every hour from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., individuals can get a first-hand look at how the district is educating students.

Site tours may be requested on another date by calling the district at 372-2172.

Landgaard said every household within the school district should have received a fast fact flyer in the mail. The two-sided flyer includes information about how the school board developed the new proposal, current enrollment and enrollment projections, its plan to reconfigure facilities district-wide, taxpayer cost projections and information about the AG2School tax credit for agriculture landowners and other potential tax relief programs.

This information and any upcoming information related to the referendum will be updated on the district’s website, Landgaard said. This will include an estimated tax impact calculator tool, which was expected to be complete and online this week.

By entering a parcel identification number, landowners will be able to view their projected tax increase both annually and monthly, should the referendum pass. The calculator will also calculate the 40 percent AG2School tax credit on eligible parcels and provide the user with the net tax impact.

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Landgaard said the tax impact calculator should be used as an estimate tool. The figures are based on current information available, he said, but factors such as a change in property valuation, the interest rate when the district sells bonds or changes to the tax base could potentially alter the impact.

According to the district’s financial advisers, Landgaard said, the district’s tax base has averaged a 6 percent expansion per year over the past four years.

“If that would hold true, that (tax impact estimate) would actually be lower,” he added.

The 2018 referendum tab is visible atop the district’s homepage or individuals may visit isd518.net/referendum18

If the referendum passes, Landgaard estimated the earliest the district may realistically gain occupancy is 2021.

 

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