A message from the Superintendent
Eastern Carver County Schools have been – and will continue to be – growing. We are honored that so many families choose our schools and want to live in our district. We also want to be sure we have appropriate spaces, ample staff and enough resources to provide the educational experience each student needs and deserves.
Last fall, a Facilities Task Force was formed to provide recommendations to maintain learning spaces for years to come while serving a student population that is projected to continue growing. After several meetings – and building on work done earlier with the help of facilities experts and demographers – the Task Force made three recommendations:
- New elementary school: With 1,400 more students expected in the next five years – and two-thirds of them at the elementary level – we simply need more space. We have been deliberate and conservative in our building plans over the last several years, but the growth continues. The Task Force’s preferred option was to build a new elementary school which would open for the 2021-22 school year. This option is less expensive and less disruptive to students compared to building additions on to existing schools.
- Deferred maintenance, district wide: Just like a home, school buildings require ongoing maintenance. And, just like a home, sometimes the projects are too large to do at one time and with existing resources. The Task Force identified a long list of deferred maintenance that should be taken care of across the district over the next ten years. Both existing and new funding streams would be needed to complete the projects.
- New, expanded bus garage: With nearly 10,000 students, we use more than 100 buses to safely transport kids from home to school and back again. Unfortunately, our bus garage only holds 50 – leaving half our buses outside in all weather conditions which can lead to higher maintenance costs.
All told, these recommendations would cost $110.5 million, requiring voter approval of bond funding. The School Board will consider the Task Force recommendations as it reviews all district funding needs over the next several months and gets input from the community through a survey, listening session and other feedback loops.
In addition to these facilities needs, we are also looking ahead to next year’s operating budget. This is the time of year when we review our academic program and staffing needs while waiting to learn what funding we will receive from the State of Minnesota, which provides our largest source of revenue.
Our district, like most Minnesota school districts, is facing increasing pressure on our operating budget. While the district has worked diligently over the past years to keep costs in check through cost containment measures and responsible budget planning, state funding is not keeping up with inflation or increasing costs, and we are not fully reimbursed for the important special education services we provide. One way to fill this funding gap is by asking voters to approve an increase in the district’s operating levy.
We also have a voter-approved Security and Technology Levy that provides a separate funding stream to help us maintain safe schools and use technology to support student learning. That levy is due to expire, but could be renewed with voter approval and no tax increase to residents.
This spring, the board will go through the process to decide what financial support it may ask of residents in a November 2019 referendum. The public is invited to a Community Listening Session to learn more about our growth and funding needs on Monday, March 11, 6:30 – 7:30 pm in the Chaska High School Blue Forum. Read more HERE.
Meanwhile, we will continue to provide exceptional personalized learning, for each and every student. Thank you for your support!
Clint Christopher, Superintendent
Eastern Carver County Schools