News Article
Both Owatonna Public Schools Referendum Requests Approved by Voters

November 5, 2019

Both Owatonna Public Schools Referendum Requests Approved by Voters
Building a new high school and repurposing current high school get the thumbs up

November 5, 2019 - Owatonna, MN: Local voters approved both Owatonna Public Schools requests for bond funding: 

Question 1 to build a new 1,600 student high school: 55.71% yes to 44.28% no (unofficial results: 6,311 yes votes, 5,017 no votes). 
Question 2 to repurpose the existing high school:51.50% yes to 48.49% no (unofficial results: 5,756 yes votes, 5,420 no votes). 

“We are incredibly grateful to our community for this double vote of confidence,” said Superintendent Jeff Elstad. “The new high school and the repurposed existing high school will benefit our entire community, not just our students. Today we are truly Owatonna Proud.”

Plans for the new high school (Q1) include:
  • New learning spaces to prepare students into 21st century opportunities
  • 300,000 square foot building designed to accommodate 1600 students
  • 70 classrooms, labs and shops outfitted with modern technology to support learning
  • Lunchroom space adequate to allow all students to get a seat during lunch; doubles as a community commons
  • Flexible media center to support a variety of learning opportunities
  • Main gymnasium and auxiliary gym to provide 4 courts for physical education and athletics
  • Modern career education spaces with updated vocational labs with modern industrial equipment, and flexibility to accommodate changes
  • 900 seat auditorium paired with an improved music area 
  • Adequate on-site parking for students, staff and visitors as well as accommodations for event parking - at least 1,000 parking stalls
  • Up-to-date building systems including modern and energy-efficient mechanical and electrical systems
  • Temperature control for both winter and summer activities
  • ?Building systems designed to allow flexibility for future changes as technology evolves in the future

The new high school will be built on an 88-acre parcel of land located near the intersection of Highways 14 and 218 in the southern part of the community. The land will be donated to the district by Federated Insurance, one of many corporate donations that helped reduce the total cost of this ballot request. Additional cash or in-kind donations were made by Federated Insurance, Mayo Clinic Health System, Viracon, Wenger Corporation and Wenger Foundation. 

Plans to repurpose the new high school (Q2) will include a review of the current high school to utilize the best parts of the building for district services and potential community usage. The final design will be a collaboration with the community and will likely include partial demolition, renovation and systems updates. 

“After the narrow defeat of our new high school request in May, we spent the summer listening to what our community wants while remembering what our students need,” said School Board Chair Mark Sebring. “These requests reflected what we heard - and this vote shows the community agreed.”

The district will soon begin plans and timelines for designing and building the new school, which will likely open in fall 2023. Once that process is underway, the district will analyze options for utilizing various parts of the existing high school for both district and community use, including gathering community input.

School funding is a partnership between the state and federal governments and local taxpayers. When schools need additional funding for major building projects or to support operating expenses, they must turn to voters for their approval - with bond requests for building projects and levy requests for learning expenses. More background on this referendum is available at


Author: Shay Baumbach   E-Mail: