In January, the APS School Board voted unanimously to place a funding question before voters on April 9, 2019. The decision was reached based on the recommendation of a
Facilities Task Force, made up of community members and school staff, in addition to a demographic study. The goal was to craft a resolution that 1) meets program needs,
2) keeps tax impact for the community as low as possible, and 3) allows construction to begin as soon as possible.
There will be one ballot question on April 9, a request for the approval to issue $24.885 million in building bonds for additions and renovations at Woodson Kindergarten Center
in order to incorporate Early Childhood programming from the CLC and create an Early Childhood Campus.
The bond proceeds will be used to:
- Build 16 new classrooms
- Add a gymnasium and additional office space
- Remodel the kitchen and cafeteria
- Install new playgrounds
If voters approve the ballot question, the tax impact to a resident with a home value of $100,000 (median Austin, MN home value is $99,500) would be approximately $3.58 per month.
What is the district referendum question?
Residents will be asked to vote on a $24.885 million bond referendum for the purpose of renovating and adding to Woodson Kindergarten Center for Early Childhood Programs and other minor facilities modifications.
What is the main purpose of the funds?
The main purpose of the funds is to add sixteen classrooms, a new gymnasium, and expand the cafeteria and kitchen at Woodson.
Why does the district need the space?
The district continues to experience an increase in student population and currently has waiting lists for our Early Childhood programs. The current space is a leased facility and it would be cost prohibitive to invest tax payer dollars in a facility not owned by the School District.
Why an April election?
The School Board is committed to making sure they have all the necessary information before asking voters to vote. In this case, they used the Facilities Task Force Recommendation and the Demographic Study to craft a resolution that meets program needs, keep tax impact as low as possible and open as soon as possible. Tuesday, April 9th, is one of 5 dates allowed by the State for Special Elections and facilitates all the criterion above.
How much will it cost taxpayers?
If this bond referendum is approved, district residents would see an increase in their school district property taxes. Please see the links to the right for more information on estimated tax impacts.
What happens if the Referendum does not pass?
The district will need to continue to lease space to provide Early Childhood programs at the current level, leaving many students and families on a waiting list.
Is there really a need?
In short, yes. Our early childhood programming is outgrowing our current space. We have long waiting lists for our preschool classes. Additionally, our currently
leased space does not allow for additions and renovations would not be cost effective.
Research conducted by the Federal Reserve indicated that "the first few years of life set the foundation for developing the attributes and skills needed to succeed
in school and work, including math and language proficiency, collaboration, critical thinking, self-motivation, and persistence." Early childhood education is a vital
part of student success, and Austin's robust and state-recognized program has outgrown the current available space.
What have you done to gather community feedback?
Last year, Austin Public Schools convened a facilities task forces consisting of community members and school personnel to study the situation. The Shared Facilities Task
Force shared their progress and recommendations by:
- Publishing all information from the task force on the school web site
- Presenting at several service clubs
- Publishing articles in local papers and doing interviews on TV and radio
- Presenting at several school board meetings
Why not purchase existing and/or empty buildings in the community?
Unfortunately, currently vacant buildings in the community are either zoned for business, too small for our needs, or would require more significant financial expenditures
When would the new spaces be available for students?
Construction would begin immediately with an anticipated opening in the fall of 2020.
Where do I vote?