ISD 197 residents are hearing competing claims about the district and its bond referendum which will be held May 8. We encourage you to research the facts for yourself, many of which can be found via the district's website, the MN Department of Education's Report Card, and Superintendent Peter Olson-Skog's blog. There are a least a few broad categories of information voters may want to consider.
Although the bond referendum is for repairs and improvements to facilities as well as construction of some new facilities, one point of contention has been student test scores. District-wide, as measured by statewide standardized tests, from 2014-2017 math proficiency increased 7.4% and reading proficiency increased 0.3%, and from 2013-2017 science proficiency decreased 0.4%. District-wide, in 2017, ISD 197 students scored higher than the state average in math (59.3% vs. 58.7%), reading (61.1% vs. 60.2%), and science (59.9% vs. 54.2%). From 2013-2017, at Henry Sibley H.S., math proficiency decreased by 5.4%, reading proficiency decreased by 0.8%, and science proficiency decreased by 1.1%. However, in 2017, Henry Sibley H.S. students scored higher than the state average in each category, including math (50.9% vs. 48.4%), reading (61.8% vs. 60.5%), and science (73.2% vs. 56.3%). Olson-Skog's blog also shows how Henry Sibley H.S. compares to several other area high schools in each of these categories:
Tax Burden of ISD 197 Residents
ISD 197 residents pay less in property taxes for their schools than do residents in many nearby school districts. The owner of a home with an assessed value of $200,000 pays $742 in ISD 197 while the owner of a home with the same assessed value would pay $799 in ISD 199, $969 in ISD 196, and $1,104 in ISD 194. ISD 197 is seeking approval of the issuance of $117 million in bonds, which would result in a property tax increase of approximately $87 per year for the owner of a home with a assessed value of $237,200, which is the median valuation within the district.
What the Bonds Will Fund
ISD 197 has published a long list of what will be funded by the bonds, if approved by voters, broken down by school. They also have a breakdown of each category of expenditures for each school. Over $27 million of the expenditures will be for deferred maintenance throughout the district. Additionally, the district has produced a 2-page fact sheet, a 22-page presentation listing the major projects to be completed at each school, a FAQ, detailed building floor plans for each school showing the proposed projects and multiple videos. Voters can direct questions to the district's referendum hotline at 651-403-7557 or email the district at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find more information about voting early or on election day, including a sample ballot, on our Voter Resources page. We strongly encourage all eligible voters within ISD 197 to make your voice heard by voting on or before May 8!