Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - A new Rochester School District task force is scheduled to begin meeting later this month to lay the groundwork for what could be a school bond referendum next year.

Superintendent Michael Munoz says the new School Facilities Task Force was formed to study the school district’s future space needs and make a recommendation on whether to pursue the construction of a new elementary school and possibly another middle school in the next several years. The group will also recommend the best locations for new schools and whether school attendance boundary adjustments should be pursued in the near-term.

Munoz says he anticipates having a funding request based on the group’s recommendations ready for a referendum in the fall of next year. He notes the timing could work in the district’s favor. Munoz says the district will soon be paying off the bonds issued for Century and Riverside Elementary Schools, which along with the community’s growing tax base, would likely mean most property owners would see little, if any, impact on their tax payments from the new school projects if they are approved.

The decision to form the task force followed a contentious debate earlier this year over possible changes to school attendance boundaries to address overcrowding at several schools in northwest Rochester. Munoz says that might have played a role in the large number of people who applied to serve on the task force. A random drawing system was used to select the 30 members from a list of over 200 applicants, who are all being invited to participate in the process. The Superintendent says the task force will present its work to the larger group and seek their input before making the recommendations public.

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