While no final decisions have been made, the Eastern Carver County School Board is gathering information and reviewing options for a potential 2021 Referendum. The Board's timeline for this important decision includes review of detailed Facility Task Force Recommendations, enrollment data, community survey results and budget and financial forecasts for the next three years.
The Eastern Carver County School Board is gathering information and reviewing options for a potential 2021 Referendum.
- Financial Forecast
- Cost Containment
- Facilities Task Force
- Carver Addition
- Financial Forecast | 05.10.21
- 2020-2021 Budget Revision | 04.12.21
- Capital Related Budget | 04.12.21
- Facilities Task Force Recommendations and Financial Forecast | 02.22.21
- Facilities Task Force Recommendations and Financial Forecast | 02.08.21
Eastern Carver County Schools is committed to the most efficient use of the funds we receive from local, state, and federal levels to educate our students. Our district has been recognized repeatedly for our financial reporting and budgeting. Balancing the school district budget and maintaining a healthy fund balance has meant reduced spending or budget cuts in recent years.
Just like homeowners who review and prioritize their maintenance projects, a district task force of parents, teachers, school board members and district staff is doing the same. The facility task force is meeting now to look at our district to-do list in detail and come up with a recommendation that will be shared with the School Board.
- Carver Elementary Addition | 05.24.21
- Facilities Task Force and Administration Recommendations | 05.10.21
- Facilities Task Force Recommendations and Financial Forecast | 02.22.21
- Initial Facilities Task Force Findings and Financial Forecast | 02.08.21
- Task Force Members
Lisa Sayles-Adams - Superintendent
Jim Bach - High School
David Brecht - Student Services
Celi Haga - Communications
Beth Holm - Middle School
DeeDee Kahring - Finance & Operations
Erin Rathke - Asst. Superintendent
Nate Slinde - Elementary
Buildings & Grounds
Tasia Griffin Seivers
Teaching & Learning
Sal Bagley - Wold Architects
John Huenink - KA Construction
Public schools receive funding from a variety of sources including federal and state government financing. Districts also rely on local funding from taxpayers’ property taxes.
Eastern Carver County Schools has received one-time federal funding to be exclusively used to cover costs caused by the hardships associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress has passed three stimulus bills, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), that provided nearly $190.5 billion to the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Education Relief (ESSER) Fund.
ECCS currently has been allocated over $3 million in COVID relief funding. The district will have access to an additional estimated $3 million as more stimulus funds are distributed in the coming months. The district is allowed to spend the special funding on a range of things including:
- Upgrades to enhance indoor air quality, and ventilation in buildings
- PPE for staff (masks, face shields, etc.)
- Plexiglass dividers in school spaces such as office reception areas
- Technology and internet hotspots for distance learning
- Additional cleaning and sanitation products required during COVID-19
- Mental health support
- Summer school programming
- Some staff salaries as they relate to teaching during COVID-19 such as additional substitute teachers
- Meeting the needs of underserved students
ECCS allocates these funds responsibly with the health and safety of our students and staff in mind, and with the priority to preserve in-person learning. These funds cannot be used for addressing the issue of enrollment loss due to COVID-19.
Predicting student enrollment is complicated. School districts use a number of factors to predict growth and enrollment trends, including: census data, births, student mobility, and housing development. For years, Eastern Carver County Schools has experienced steady growth. Carver County is the fastest growing county in the state, and looking at predicted land development in the four communities that our district serves, we anticipate that trend will continue.
Significant events can cause a disruption in growth predictions. School districts across the nation experienced enrollment loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ECCS was no exception. The district lost over 300 students in the 2020-21 school year as a result of parents choosing another option for their children during the health crisis. While the district anticipates that some of those students will return as things resemble normal again, there’s no way of knowing for sure until the fall of 2021.
As a result, we have adjusted our growth projections to account for this year’s loss in enrollment. The district is still on pace to continue growing, and we still anticipate more needs in terms of space, particularly at the elementary level, in the future.
Capacity is the ability of a building to house students and important programs such as preschool and center-based specialized services. When a new school is built, it has a certain amount of building capacity. That number is fluid, though, and changes in how the space is used can impact overall capacity. For instance, if a classroom is transitioned to a computer lab, or a specialized services program with lower class sizes is in the building, that can reduce the building’s overall capacity.
As a district, our biggest capacity concerns are at the elementary level. Our high schools and middle schools have enough space for the next several years to absorb growth in the district. In the 2019 referendum, the district proposed building a new elementary school to increase capacity at the elementary level, where most of the pressure is felt. This bond referendum failed. If it had been approved by voters, the new school would have opened in the fall of 2021. The 2019 referendum also included an operating levy which also did not receive voter approval. The failure of this operating referendum, along with shortfalls in state and federal funding, have resulted in more than $9 million in budget cuts and cost containment efforts including the need to increase class size at the elementary level.
Even with these increased class sizes, some of our buildings are still close to, or approaching capacity. Were class sizes to be reduced, this could put even more pressure on our elementary buildings. Given these factors, the district will likely convene a Boundary Task Force to look at where the growth is occurring in the district and how we might balance out enrollment at all of the elementary schools to make sure buildings aren’t overcrowded.
Carver Elementary School was built with the understanding that an addition would eventually be a part of the building. Certain spaces - like the cafeteria and gymnasium, were designed bigger to accommodate for additional students in the future. As the western half of the district has continued to grow, including the neighborhoods right around Carver Elementary, adding on to the building has become a priority.
In May 2021, the Board voted to approve a $9 million addition to Carver Elementary, authorized via lease levy. The addition will add on over 19,000 square feet and increase capacity by 150 students. Work will begin in the summer of 2021, with the new addition opening in the fall of 2022.