Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the school district studying its facilities?
As good stewards of the community’s resources, the school district periodically needs to analyze its school buildings to assess how well they are meeting students’ learning needs. Similar to a home, school buildings have smaller issues that need to be fixed each year, as well as larger repairs that build up over time and must be addressed eventually. This study is focused primarily on the larger, long-range repairs that have been accumulating. The last study was done in 2007, but the majority of repairs were last completed back in 1996.

Why was a Community Task Force on Facilities created?
Having a cross-section of people who represent the Owatonna community assess the district’s buildings – with the help of outside experts, facilitators and district information – helps ensure a comprehensive, transparent and inclusive process. The schools belong to the community, because local residents’ taxes paid for and provide support for those buildings. Thus it seemed especially appropriate to have community members involved in the analysis and determining the recommendations to the school board.

How was the Community Task Force on Facilities selected, and who served on it?
All interested participants submitted an application. The superintendent, finance director and a school board member reviewed the applications to identify the Task Force members. Members were selected to provide a wide variety of backgrounds, skills and perspectives, represent a broad cross-section of the community and demonstrate an interest in the long-term health of the school district. More than 50 applications were received; 36 members were selected.

What was the Community Task Force on Facilities asked to do?
The Task Force charge was to recommend a comprehensive long-range Facilities Master Plan to the School Board that will:
  • Best serve the school district’s educational goals and align to strategic plan
  • Be financially attainable and sustainable
  • Accommodate the District’s PreK-12 enrollment and other programs
  • Cover anticipated needs for the next 10 years

How did the Community Task Force on Facilities arrive at its recommendations?
The Task Force met for nearly four months, attended more than 20 hours of meetings, reviewed hundreds of pages of documentation and discussed a dozen or more options before agreeing on their recommendations. Prior to the formation of the Task Force, district staff and Wold Architects and Engineers spent a year collecting data, visiting schools and interviewing staff. The facilities study and resulting recommendations were based on capacity, current enrollment, projected enrollment, educational needs of the school district, special programs, school security and financial stewardship.

How will the school district pay for the facilities needs that are identified?
A school district’s annual budget does not cover major and long-range capital/facilities needs. Those require community support of a taxpayer-approved bond through a referendum. If the school board approves moving forward with any of the facilities recommendations, it will need to hold an election to allow voters to decide whether to fund the recommendations through an increase in their property taxes. The soonest a referendum would be held would be November 3, 2015; the school board could also choose to wait until a later date.