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News and Events

Events

We are happy to be hosting public meetings to provide a presentation and information on the facility needs of our district. Please join us at one of these meetings to get your questions answered. Thank you for taking advantage of these opportunities to get more information.

  • Oct. 9, 5:30 p.m., Waterville auditorium
  • Oct.10, 7 p.m., Elysian ALC library/media center
  • Oct. 11, 7 p.m. Morristown cafeteria

 

News

Waterville-Elysian-Morristown schools to hold $19 million referendum

Mankato Free Press

August 21, 2018 -  Voters in the Waterville-Elysian-Morristown School District will decide in November whether to raise their taxes to fund building upgrades at both the district's schools.

The WEM School Board decided last week to put a $19.3 million bond request on the ballot.

Nearly half of the dollars would go to maintenance projects. More than $2 million would fund a small addition for the youngest learners at the Waterville school, nearly $3 million would got to classroom updates in Waterville and nearly $2 million is targeted for security improvements at both schools.

Supt. Joel Whitehurst said the request won't accomplish every project on the district's facilities wish list but includes the top priorities.

If approved, taxes on a residential property valued at $200,000 would increase by a $286 per year for 20 years, according to district estimates. For a $500,000 commercial property, taxes would increase $792 annually. A farmer with a homestead and an agriculture land value of $6,000 per acre would pay an additional $5.70 per acre.

At the school in Waterville, which is home to the district's preschool, elementary school and high school, more than $15 million worth of projects are proposed.

An addition with four new preschool and elementary classrooms and two bathrooms is planned. The existing elementary school wings would be remodeled.

High school science classrooms and the agriculture and career and technical shops also would be renovated.

New secure entrances would be built — one for the high school and one for the preschool and elementary school. Other safety and security improvements would include creating a student drop-off lane separate from the bus lane.

Spaces would be remodeled to create bathrooms and locker rooms that comply with Americans with Disabilities Act access guidelines.

The planned maintenance projects all involve the building's heating and cooling systems.

School Board member Jeff Stangler said he cast the only vote against holding a referendum because he doesn't believe the $2.1 million building addition is needed. Enrollment is declining overall and a temporary annex would be a more cost-effective solution to accommodate any blips in enrollment, he said.

Stangler said he supports all of the other proposed building improvements.

Whitehurst said the expansion also would allow the district to consolidate preschool and elementary classes into the same area of the building.

The $4 million in work planned at the middle school in Morristown includes safety and accessibility improvements and maintenance projects.

A new secure entrance and a separated car drop-off lane are proposed. The art room would move to an underutilized storage area and the art room would become accessible bathrooms and a new accessible boys locker room.

Most of the funds spent in Morristown would be for heating and cooling system updates.

After three failed referendums in recent years, Whitehurst said district leaders decided to try again after conducting a community survey. The survey helped leadership set a budget of $20 million and set priorities for spending those dollars if they are rewarded, the superintendent said.

Over half of residents surveyed this spring said the district should pursue a referendum and a quarter were undecided. Over half said they'd prefer the district build a new school but less than half said they'd be willing to fund the estimated $55 million price tag. Nearly two-thirds of the resident respondents said they'd support a referendum of $20 million.

The district launched a webpage Tuesday with more information about the proposed improvements and estimated tax impacts. Community information meetings will be held in the fall, Whitehurst said.

 

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