School Board Approves Referendum Vote for New Owatonna High School
Just three months after a narrow defeat of a bond referendum for a new high school, the Owatonna School Board approved a plan for another vote at their meeting on Monday, August 12. The November 5 vote will have two questions. The first will ask for approval of a new high school campus in Owatonna. The second will address future use of the current building.
Monday's unanimous vote of the school board comes after numerous listening sessions with district residents. In a news release on Monday night, the school district indicated that main concerns from resident input included too steep a cost for a new high school, too great of a tax impact, lack of a plan for the current high school and a wish to know the location and design for a new high school.
The first question will propose a $104 million referendum to build a campus to accommodate 1,600 students, 100 less than the original plan. Business donations of over $22 million are reflected in the price tag.
The second question for $8 million would go to re-purpose the current high school for community or district use. The second question is contingent on the approval of the first question.
Monday's press release says the average homeowner would see a tax impact of $17.48 per month if both measures pass.
The news release provides a recent history of the Community Task Force on Facilities which including the 2015 passage of a bond for deferred maintenance, safety and security, in addition to middle school and elementary additions. Current issues for the nearly century-old high school include outdated learning space, site limitations, maintenance needs and safety and security concerns.
The May vote for a new Owatonna High School was defeated by a 120-vote margin. The percentage was 49.5% yes and 50.5% no.