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April vote decides $38.5-million school tab

A taxpayer-financed plan to uniformly modernize all district schools and extend their life span to the middle of the century was passed Monday night by the school board.

In April voters must decide if they want to raise their school taxes to cover the $38.5 million the various projects will cost.

Only three local citizens asked questions about the plan at Monday's school board meeting.

One, Dianna Nafe, thought the overall the plan wasn't bad, but asked if there was a cheaper option.

"Has a Plan B been looked at, maybe one that cuts it down to the core, that's even less expensive?" Nafe asked.

School board member Manny Kenney replied: "This is Plan B. The other one was for $48 million...The voters will have the final say. If we're not successful, then we will go to Plan C."

Kenney was referring to a costlier proposal made by a strategic planning team and the Twin Cities engineering/architectural firm ATS&R almost a year ago.

Since then, the school board's Facilities Committee has met for months, analyzed each school, and cut the initial recommendation by nearly $10 million.

Estimates on how much the proposed levy referendum will cost voters over the next two decades range from 60-70 cents per each $1,000 of property value.

That would mean a $150,000 homeowner would pay an extra $90-$105 a year; a $200,000 homeowner would pay an extra $120-$140; and a $250,000 homeowner would pay an extra $150-$175.

The nuts and bolts of the referendum are, literally, nuts and bolts. The theme is "fixing, not building new."

Each school gets a makeover, much of it mechanical and for materials, from plumbing, heating, ventilation and electrical to windows, doors, cabinets, sinks and rooftops.

Focus is on: Safety and security; educational programs and space needs; energy efficiency and sustainability; deferred maintenance and physical accessibility.

For those who wish to see more details on the referendum plan, there are options:

  • A copy to review is available at the River Falls Public Library.
  • Copies are available to take home from the district central office, 852 E. Division St.
  • click this link to go to an RFSD facilities report: