White Bear Lake Area Schools Referendum Proposal Receives Positive Review from State Department of Education

For Immediate Release: October 4, 2019
WBLAS Contact: Marisa Vette, 651-407-7695, marisa.vette@isd624.org 

The Minnesota Department of Education has given its stamp of approval to White Bear Lake Area School District’s bond referendum proposal that will come before voters on November 5, 2019. 

If voters approve the district’s request, the bond funding would be used to accommodate projected enrollment growth; provide safe, secure and healthy learning environments for all students through investments in aging facilities and infrastructure; increase opportunities for students by creating a “new” single unified grades 9-12 high school; and create flexibly-designed learning spaces to support student-centered instruction. The facilities plan is comprehensive, touching every building, program and student in the district. 

In her approval letter, Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker said, “Based on the department’s analysis of the school district’s required documentation and other pertinent information from sources of the Minnesota Department of Education, the Commissioner of Education provides a positive review and comment.”

School districts must submit detailed documentation to the state for approval when proposing major building projects. The criteria being reviewed centers around the educational and economic advisability of the proposed construction projects. Now that state approval has been granted, the next step is voter approval on November 5. 

The unanimous School Board decision to bring the referendum request to voters on November 5 was based on a nearly year-long facilities planning process that included: a 90-member Facilities Planning Committee composed of parents, staff and community members; several School Board discussions; community surveys; and demographic and facilities studies. 

Due to housing growth and turnover, the district projects more than 2,000 new students will enroll during the next ten years, which is 25% higher than current capacity. The Facilities Planning Committee research also identified educational program and building maintenance needs that should be addressed in the next ten years in order to maintain the community’s investment in its schools. Due to sound fiscal management and the retiring of existing debt, the $326 million comprehensive district-wide plan will result in a tax impact of only about $23 per month for the average homeowner ($275,000 value home).

More information about the November 5 election and White Bear Lake Area Schools’ “Building our Future” referendum request is available at www.isd624.org/Bond2019.