District 15 referendum questions on the ballot May 23

Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

St. Francis School District residents have the opportunity to vote in a special election Tuesday, May 23.

Two referendum questions will be on the ballot, asking voters to approve a total of $107.8 million in building bonds.

The first question asks whether the school district should be authorized to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $92.28 million for acquisition and betterment of school facilities.

Dollars would go to replace dated infrastructure and upgrade interior finishes in nearly all school buildings. Larger projects include the removal of portable classrooms at East Bethel Community School and the Lifelong Learning Center and construction of a 10-classroom addition to St. Francis Elementary School.

The second question, contingent on the first passing, asks whether the district should be authorized to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $15.52 million for acquisition and betterment of school facilities, in particular the addition of a four-station community activities center at St. Francis High School.

With an annual debt service levy of $3.4 million coming off this fall’s tax levy, the net tax impact on a $150,000 home would be roughly $102 annually if questions one and two both pass. If the referendum is voted down, taxes will decrease dramatically with the loss of that debt service levy. The same $150,000 home would see taxes cut by more than 50 percent with a $148 drop.

“This bond would backfill that amount,” said Lisa Rahn, director of Community Education who is leading work on the bond referendum in the district.

A tax impact calculator is available at www.stfrancis.k12.mn.us.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. May 23 and remain open through 8 p.m.

Voters living in Precinct 1 include St. Francis School District residents living in Bethel, Nowthen and St. Francis, as well as Athens, Spencerbrook and Stanford townships. Precinct 1 voters will cast their ballots at the Central Services Center, 4115 Ambassador Blvd. NW, St. Francis.

Voters living in Precinct 2 are St. Francis School District residents of Andover and Oak Grove. They will vote at the Lifelong Learning Center, 18900 Cedar Drive NW, Oak Grove.

Precinct 3 voters hail from portions of East Bethel and Linwood Township falling within School District 15 boundaries. They will cast ballots at the East Bethel Senior Center, 2241 221st Ave. NE, East Bethel.

“It’s important to have pride in our schools, to have pride in our buildings,” School Board Chairperson Mike Starr said. “A good school district has a good community. A good community has a good school district, and we work hand in hand to be successful out here.”

For additional information about the upcoming special election, visit www.stfrancis.k12.mn.us.

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