Enrollment Growth and School Funding Needs
Grow. Invest. Learn.
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.
In fall 2018, a Facility Task Force was formed to provide recommendations that will preserve and maintain learning spaces for years to come and serve a student population that is projected to continue growing. The scope of current facility needs is large and will require both additional funding and prioritization to accomplish. The school board’s top concerns are matching student enrollment with school capacity, and ensuring safe, secure and well-maintained facilities.
This spring, the School Board will review the recommendations, needs and input to decide what support it needs from residents through funding requests in a November 2019 referendum.
Build Elementary School to Address Rapid Growth
Our district is projected to grow.
The task force recommends building a new elementary school.
Demographic studies project an overall enrollment increase of 1,400 students in five years, with nearly two-thirds of those students at the elementary level. The district is currently at capacity, or close to it, in most elementary schools. The Facility Task Force looked at two options to manage elementary enrollment growth: adding on to three elementary schools or building a new elementary school. The Facility Task Force recommended a 610-student elementary school as their preferred option, in part because it would cost less than three building additions and would also be less disruptive to students.
The cost to build a new elementary school is estimated at $35.5 million.
Deferred Maintenance – Maintaining Schools
Our buildings are aging.
We must maintain school buildings and protect our investments.
Even though the district has been growing and building new schools, the median age of our schools is 34 years. While there have been updates to parking lots, roofs, flooring and paint over the years, much more deferred maintenance remains. This includes things like inefficient heating and ventilation systems, cracked and worn foundations, eroded flooring and more. The Facility Task Force, working with engineering and architectural consultants, compiled a list of deferred maintenance needs totaling nearly $139 million. The recommendation to the School Board included $61.5 million in deferred maintenance as part of a bond referendum in November. The remaining needs would be managed over 10 years using other funding sources available to the School Board, pending their approval.
New, Expanded Bus Garage
Our current bus garage only holds 50 of our 100 buses.
Leaving buses outside leads to higher maintenance costs.
The Facility Task Force also recommended the need for an updated and expanded bus garage. The current garage can hold 50 buses, but the district operates more than 100 buses. As the district grows, the need for more buses will grow as well. The garage needs additional mechanical bays, wash bays, and more land for parking and space. Buses kept outside incur additional wear and tear, increasing the costs to maintain them.
The cost to build a new bus garage is estimated at $13.5 million.
Operating Revenue for Our Schools
If state funding had kept pace with inflation,
we would have received more than
$6 million in additional funding this year alone.
While the district has worked diligently over the past years to keep costs in check through cost containment measures and responsible budget planning, expenses are outpacing revenue. 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.
Security and Technology For Learning
Renewing this levy would allow
us to continue supporting
student learning in a safe school environment.
In 2013, voters approved a capital projects levy for security and technology. The levy provides funding to improve school security, maintain technology infrastructure and put learning tools in the hands of students. This six-year levy is due to expire, but that requires voter approval. Renewing the levy will not increase taxes to residents.
Bonds are for Building. Levies are for Learning.
When school district needs additional funding for operate, maintain or build schools, they must get voter approval through a referendum. Bond funds can only be used for construction and renovations. Operating levies are a legally separate funding stream that voters can approve to support classrooms and educational programs. In 2013 and 2015, our residents approved funding to support our growing district.