Dave Unze’s latest article about ISD742’s new bonding referendum is must-reading for the districts’ residents because of its multiple potential impacts.

First, it’s important to consider the impact the referendum will have on local property taxes. The impact will undoubtedly be gigantic, especially for people living on fixed incomes. Next, it’s important that residents question whether this is the wisest choice in terms of whether School Superintendent Willie Jett’s proposal fits St. Cloud’s and the area’s future. Many residents see the city and the region looking much different than it currently looks. Third, residents should tell the district that they’re voting no unless they see the blueprint for the proposed Tech High School. They should tell the School Board that the questions must be worded so that no changes to the blueprints can be made once voters approve the issuing of bonds.

Last year, when the proposed bonding referendum was defeated 8,460-7,393, many voters that I spoke with said that they weren’t willing to approve a blank check to the school board. They said that there wasn’t much information put out there about what the new Tech High School would look like.

Since then, the landscape has changed significantly. People question whether there’s a need to build a new Tech. Voters should question whether refurbishing Tech might not be a better option. Residents should also question the size of the new Tech building. Last year’s referendum called for Tech and Apollo to both hold 1,800 students. This past year, there were approximately 2,700 students attending the 2 schools.

It’s foolish to think that enrollment will increase by one-third over the next 25 years. If anything, it’s likely to continue shrinking. Here are the basics of the proposal as reported by Unze:

St. Cloud schools superintendent Willie Jett is recommending that school board members ask voters for $137.9 million to build a new Technical High School and renovate Apollo High School.

The vote would be Nov. 8, with two questions on the ballot. The first, asking for funding to build a new Tech, would have to pass in order for the money to renovate Apollo to be provided. The Apollo funding would be a second ballot question. Jett recommends asking voters for $100.5 million for a new Tech and $37.3 million for Apollo renovations.

Voters should keep this in mind when they vote this November:

School board members at a work session Thursday morning all voiced support for Jett’s recommendations.

What did these people base their support on? If they’re just going to rubberstamp Jett’s recommendations, why do they even exist? Seriously, it’s time to vote for new ideas on the board. I don’t care what age the people are. I care about whether they’re willing to question conventional wisdom.

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4 Responses to “ISD742 at it again”

  • JerryE9 says:

    Why haven’t all the options been laid out for the voters? When our district had a bond issue, the initial ask of some $300 million got pared down to about $60 million after public input, and then it was handily approved. These school districts have champagne tastes and beer budgets, and only because somebody else picks up the tab do they keep ordering the bubbly.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Jerry, our school board thinks that they’re so entrenched that they think we’re obligated to vote for their proposals because their opinions shouldn’t be challenged. It’s the EU’s pre-Brexit attitude on a smaller scale.

  • JerryE9 says:

    You would be surprised what a small opposition group can do by openly challenging the Board in public meetings and LTEs. All you have to do is ask questions, most of the time.

  • Gary Gross says:

    That’s exactly what we did last fall when we defeated the Board’s blank check.

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