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2018 Bond Referendum FAQs

  • What is the Minnesota Department of Education School Safety Grant and was CHPS a recipient?

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    Governor Dayton and the 2018 Legislature passed School Safety Grants last spring. Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) designed an application process and lottery for selection. MDE received a total of 1,187 complete applications, requesting $255.5 million—more than 10 times the available amount of funding.

    In October, MDE announced that 90 Minnesota public schools districts or charter schools were awarded School Safety Grants at 123 building sites across the state.

    Columbia Heights Public Schools submitted six grant applications, one for each of the building sites. The District is grateful that two of the six sites were selected. MDE awarded the District two grants, one at Columbia Academy and the other at North Park Elementary. The grants are now being finalized with MDE. MDE has stated that “the funding is contingent upon any negotiations and clarifications that will be necessary before executing the award, including the submission and approval of a full work plan and budget.” The total grant amount requested for Columbia Academy was $77,368 and for North Park Elementary was $444,098, both amounts are contingent upon the finalizing of the grant. MDE is working its way through the grant recipients for follow up meetings. The District is currently awaiting notification from MDE when the planning meeting will be held and the grant award specifics and financials will be finalized. When the grant is finalized and approved, it will benefit and supplement what the District has planned in the area of school safety. The District will communicate to parents and the community more of the award details when the grant has been finalized and is official.

    The District is grateful that MDE has recognized the need to support school safety across the state and specifically in Columbia Heights Public Schools. In light of escalating incidents of school violence across the Nation, the District can never do enough and always do more to protect students and address parents’ concerns about secure schools. Parents demand safe and secure schools and the community expects it.

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  • What is a Bond Referendum?

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    This is a request of voters to increase taxes for the purpose of improving school facilities. If approved by voters, the bonds can only be used in larger “bricks and mortar” projects that are not covered by the District's General Fund and the 2014 Capital Projects Levy.

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  • Who approved putting this Bond Referendum on the ballot?

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    The Columbia Heights School Board voted May 22, 2018 on a resolution to place a bond on the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot. The Minnesota Department of Education, by statute, approved the CHPS Review and Comment July 13, 2018.

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  • When was the last time the School District had a voter approved Bond Referendum?

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    1996

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  • Why is the District asking for money for upgrading specific facilities and sites?

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    The District has aging buildings that need modernization beyond the scope of the long-term facility maintenance funding. The 2018 Bond Referendum will provide solutions for the current safety and security challenges and will provide much needed educational renovations, remodeling and upgrades to the schools.

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  • How much money is the District asking of taxpayers for this Bond Referendum?

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    The District is asking for $17,013,311. It is important to note that the tax impact to voters is based on their property values. View a table of estimated tax impact on this page.

     

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  • What is the specified term to repay the bond debt for this referendum?

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    15 years

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  • With voter approval, when would these projects start?

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    Should voters approve the Bond Referendum request, specific planning would begin almost immediately with the required processes (request for bids, etc.) following a prescribed timeline.

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  • What happens if this Bond is not passed by voters?

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    The safety, security and educational renovations, remodeling, upgrading, equipping and constructing at North Park Elementary School and Columbia Heights High School will not proceed until such time adequate funding is made available.

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  • Where can I read the Resolution that the School Board passed?

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    You can read the resolution here

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  • Is there one question on the ballot?

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    No, there are three questions on the ballot. Early voting begins September 21, 2018 for the November 6, 2018 general election.

    These ballot questions will address the following:

    • North Park Elementary School safety and building improvements
    • Columbia Heights High School performing arts spaces improvements
    • Columbia Heights High School band room addition
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  • Is passage of the questions contingent upon one another?

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    No. Because these are separate ballot questions, each stands on its own. Voters will have the opportunity to vote on one, two or all three of the ballot questions.

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  • What was the 2014 Levy for?

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    The 2014 voter approved Capital Projects Levy was to provide plumbing, roofing and other maintenance, along with an investment in educational technology. Learn more about the 2014 Capital Projects Levy.

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  • Did the passage of the 2014 Operational Levy increase my taxes?

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    When voters approved the 2014 Operational Levy, it renewed the existing operational levy which extended it for an additional ten years.

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  • What is the term length of the 2014 Operational Levy?

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    The 2014 Operational Levy is a 10 year levy.  The school district first received these funds in fiscal year 2016 and will continue to receive these funds through fiscal year 2026. The school board is presented with annual updates on progress of the 2014 Operational Levy and the annual updates on the 2014 Operational Levy can be found on the District website.

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  • Why does North Park Elementary School need remodeling?

    Posted by:

    The 1966 building is not meeting current safety, security and educational needs.

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  • What is being asked for at North Park Elementary School?

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    The Bond referendum calls for improving student safety and modernizing learning spaces. First, the 2018 Bond would provide a secure point of entry for all visitors which includes moving the administrative office to a new secure main entrance. Additional safety measures would be put in place outside where currently the bus lane is on the playground where children play. Second, the Bond would include upgrading the library, creating separate Science, Arts and early childhood classrooms. The project would also include constructing a cafeteria so that students would no longer eat in a space that is co-located with the gymnasium.

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  • What is being asked for at Columbia Heights High School?

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    The bond referendum calls for updating and modernizing the performing arts spaces, purchasing and installing a soundboard in a renovated booth, including a new permanent speaker system, wiring, screen, projector, control systems, flooring, seating, carpeting, painting, curtains, dressing rooms and an American with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramp. For a requested new and larger band classroom, separate practice spaces, instrument repair and cleaning space, instrument storage, improved acoustics and natural lighting and furnishings.

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  • Does CHHS have a full-time band teacher?

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    Yes both CA and CHHS have full-time band teachers.

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  • Does the District make its budgets available to the public?

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    Yes. District budgets from Fiscal Year 2013-2014 to the present are available on the Budget Reports page. Additionally, after School Board approval of a budget, the District includes that decision in the School Board Report, which is made available to the news media and public.

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  • Is Columbia Heights Public Schools financially responsible?

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    Yes. Each year the School District is audited by an independent auditing firm. These audits look at virtually every aspect of the District's financial operations.  A representative from the auditing firm of Bergan, Kern DeWenter Viere (BerganKDV) told the Columbia Heights School Board that district business operations are well-managed and consistent with national accounting standards at the Nov. 22 School Board meeting. Last October, the Association of School Business Officials International selected the Columbia Heights Public Schools’ Finance Department for its eleventh consecutive Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting award. The award is the highest recognition for school district financial operations and is only conferred to school districts that have met or exceeded the most stringent standards for financial reporting and accountability.

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  • Does the State provide annual funding to the District for improvements to buildings?

    Posted by:

    All public school districts receive general education aid, of which a portion is identified for long term facilities maintenance which would not cover improving safety and modernizing learning spaces.

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  • Does the School Board raise property taxes?

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    In certain instances the School Board can increase taxes without going to the voters, such as lease levies. This is not a privilege unique to Columbia Heights Public Schools and is consistent with state statutes.

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  • How is the approximate tax impact calculated?

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    Tax capacity and tax valuation figures are calculated from the Anoka County Tax and Assessment Department.

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  • How can the District guarantee voters their taxes will not exceed what has been shared?

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    The District provides approximate tax increases based on specified property values. The District cannot guarantee changes in taxes based on either increases or decreases in property values. Source: Anoka County Records, Taxation and Assessment Department.

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  • Is it true that good school facilities have a positive impact on property values?

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    Yes, there are multiple studies and reports verifying that good schools can have a positive impact on a homeowner's property. It is important to note that every community is different; however, there are specific examples that should be considered. For instance, a 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 25 percent of the home buyers listed school quality and 20 percent listed proximity to schools as deciding factors in purchasing their homes. To be informed, check with the county tax assessor for details as they relate to your home.

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  • Can the District move levy referendum funds to voter approved bond projects and vice-versa?

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    No. The District, like all government entities that receive taxpayer approved referendums, can only use the funding for the designated purposes approved by voters.

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  • Can the School Board and District employees advocate for the passage of this Bond Referendum?

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    Board members and staff can serve on advocacy committees during their personal time. School Board members and District employees "cannot advocate for a referendum's passage or defeat while they are being paid by a school (District)." Source: Minnesota School Board Association.

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  • Can the District legally spend taxpayer monies to factually inform the public of a school District

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    Yes, the district has a responsibility to provide the public with factual information about the details of the proposed bond referendum. The District must follow the Attorney General Opinion 159A-3 (May 24, 1966). The School District must provide information about this Bond Referendum in a neutral manner.

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  • Was the community asked for their input?

    Posted by:

    The District - aligned to its Strategic Roadmap -conducts community surveys. During the past two years, these surveys included questions related to North Park Elementary School and Columbia Heights High School. The most recent survey (Spring 2017), conducted by an independent research organization, found that 72.4 percent of the respondents (+/- 5.3 percent margin of error) indicated they would support this Bond Referendum.

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  • Will the public have the opportunity to ask questions and share their feedback?

    Posted by:

    Yes, in addition to sending questions via email or calling, the District will have three community forums that are open to the public. The forums are scheduled for:

    • 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 at Columbia Heights High School (1400 49th Avenue NE, Columbia Heights)
    • 6:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16 at North Park Elementary School (5575 Fillmore Street NE, Fridley)
    • 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30 at Columbia Heights High School (1400 49th Avenue NE, Columbia Heights)
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  • Where do I vote?

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    Polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 6.

    Find your polling place.

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  • Where can I get an absentee ballot application?

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    You can download the 2017 Minnesota Absentee Ballot Application here.

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  • Will there be absentee voting?

    Posted by:

    Per the Anoka County Elections Office, Absentee voting for the November 7, 2017 elections is from Friday, Sept. 22 to 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 6. After the start of the absentee period, ballots will be mailed out as soon as applications are received, typically the same business day. All absentee ballots must be returned by mail by 8 p.m. Election Day (Nov 7, 2017) to be counted. Voters may also drop off their own voted absentee ballot (or through an agent) in person to the County by 3 p.m. Election Day (Nov. 7, 2017). Within the last seven days prior to the election, voters in special situations can use the agent delivery process to vote absentee. Learn more about absentee voting.

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  • “I would like to advocate for the passage of this Bond Referendum. Who do I talk with so I can help?

    Posted by:

    Columbia Heights Public Schools, by statute, cannot engage in advocacy for any election relating to the District.  

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