WORTHINGTON — The Independent School District 518 school board has proposed a three-question ballot for a school referendum election. The first two of these questions address the space, safety and security needs of ISD 518 by proposing an intermediate school. The third question is looking to refinance money to allow it to qualify for the Minnesota State Ag2School tax credit, saving money for agricultural land owners by shifting monetary burden from the community to the state of Minnesota.
The first question looks for permission for the school board to borrow $26.7 million to construct an intermediate school for 600 students in grades 4 and 5. This construction would take place on the Crailsheim site owned by ISD 518. The amount of this question has recently been reduced by the school board, which committed an additional $3 million to fund the question. The total committed by the school board to help fund question one is now $5 million. This ballot question addresses the issues currently facing the district and would free up space within Prairie Elementary and Worthington Middle School by shifting students from grades 4 and 5 to the newly constructed building.
Question two on the referendum ballot asks district residents for permission for the school board to borrow and $7 million in addition to what is borrowed in question one to allow for a third grade to be included in the building proposed in question one. This can only be passed if question one also passes. The result of questions one and two passing is a 900-student, grades 3, 4 and 5 intermediate school built on the district-owned Crailsheim site. This would total to $33.7 million borrowed by ISD 518 for construction of this building. The passing of questions one and two looks ahead to the projected enrollment growth of the district and the space, safety and security issues that will arise in the future as these projections continue to come to fruition.
The third and final question on the Nov. 5 referendum election ballot stands separate from the first two questions. This question is not asking for any additional borrowing, but instead something more akin to a refinancing. The third questions would allow ISD 518 to refinance the district’s $14 million 2017A. This question’s passage would make those funds available for the Minnesota State Ag2School tax credit. The Ag2School tax credit provides relief to agricultural land owners in our district by shifting some of the monetary burden to the state of Minnesota. This state tax credit was recently approved to increase incrementally until it reaches 70% in 2023.
The three questions on the Nov. 5 referendum ballot all address needs within the ISD 518 community. The first two questions pose a solution for the space, safety and security of our students by proposing an intermediate school being built on the district-owned Crailsheim site. If question one passes, this building would house 600 grade 4 and 5 students. If questions one and two are passed, this building would house 900 grade 3, 4 and 5 students. Question one must be passed for question two to be passed. Question three works to provide relief for local agricultural landowners by refinancing money previously borrowed by ID 518 so that it can be eligible for a tax credit from the state of Minnesota.
Early voting for the referendum beings Sept. 20. Referendum election day is Nov. 5 with polling taking place a single location, Lakeside Church. The polling place is located at 1000 Linda Lane in Worthington. If you have any questions concerning the upcoming referendum, please reach out to the school district for more information. You can contact ISD 518 by calling the district office at 372-2172 or by email at email@example.com. Information is also available at www.building518excellence.com and ISD 518’s webpage, www.isd518.net as well as the district’s social media pages.
Parker Sandhurst is District 518's communications coordinator.