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Round Lake-Brewster referendum fast approaching

(Graphic designed by Leah Ward)

BREWSTER — A referendum that would help fund new construction to the Round Lake-Brewster public school in Brewster is fast approaching.

RL-B district residents will head to the polls May 14 to determine whether the district may bond up to $1,995,000 for construction of a building addition to the front of the existing pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school building. The district’s current enrollment is 353 students, and RL-B is experiencing a pattern of increasing numbers.

The building addition is planned to include a new gymnasium for physical education and recess, four new classrooms, the installation of an elevator for access to the building’s second and third floors, a secure entrance and the completion of deferred maintenance projects. Additional office space may be constructed depending on the outcome of the referendum and bidding process. The RL-B Board of Education will open and consider project bids May 2.

According to Superintendent Ray Hassing, construction is estimated to begin around June 1, with completion slated around April 2020.

Throughout the decision-making process, the RL-B board had considered trying and fund the project with the district’s fund balance. According to school board meeting minutes, the board voted unanimously in February to ask residents to support the 20-year bond of just under $2 million.

Hassing said that decision was made with consideration to the Ag2Schools 40 percent tax credit and financial impact to the district.

“The state would pick up over $600,000 of the bond,” Hassing said of the anticipated effect of the tax credit afforded to agriculture land owners.

The district is hosting two referendum informational meetings. The first public meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday, April 29 at the Round Lake City Hall. The second informational meeting will be held at 7 p.m. May 2 at the Round Lake-Brewster school’s gymnasium in Brewster.

Referendum information is also available on the district’s website, rlb.mntm.org. Tax impact calculators for residential and commercial/industrial properties are live on the site. Agriculture or other property-type owners are encouraged to contact the district’s public finance advisor, Ehlers Inc. Advisors may be contacted by phone at (651) 697-8500 or email at mnschools@ehlers-inc.com.

Hassing encouraged district residents to contact the school or a school board member with any questions related to the proposal in advance of the May 14 vote.

“It’s a very minimal tax increase for most taxpayers in support of our schools and it’s just going to benefit our students for years to come,” Hassing said. “We’re hoping that we have good results.”

Where and how to vote:

Polling locations will be open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 14. Polling locations for RL-B district residents include:  

  • Brewster City Hall, 246 10th St., Brewster: City of Brewster residents.
  • Brewster Legion Hall, 825 East Ave., Brewster: Hersey Township residents.
  • Round Lake City Hall, 98 Main St., Round Lake: City of Round Lake and Indian Lake Township residents.
  • Nobles County Auditor’s Office, Government Center, 315 10th St., Worthington: Graham Lakes and Lorain township residents (these townships that utilize mail-in ballot system for state and general elections will not receive ballots in the mail for the RL-B election).
  • Round Lake Town Hall, 32529 720th St., Round Lake: Round Lake Township (Jackson County) residents.  
  • Jackson County Courthouse Board Room, 405 Fourth Street, Jackson: Alba, Ewington and LaCrosse townships’ residents (these townships that utilize mail-in ballot system for state and general elections will not receive ballots in the mail for the RL-B election).

Ballots may also be cast early now through May 13 at the Nobles and Jackson counties’ auditor-treasurer’s office. Early voters will need to visit the county auditor-treasurer’s office relative to which county they reside. Both the Nobles and Jackson counties’ auditor-treasurer's offices are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Both will also offer special hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 11. The cutoff to cast an early vote at the auditor-treasurer’s office is 5 p.m. May 13 for both locations.

Voters may address questions to the Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office, 295-5258, or the Jackson County Auditor-Treasurer's Office, (507) 847-2763.

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