Two resolutions outline details of April 3 referendum


Monday evening, Jan. 15, the School District of River Falls Board of Education approved resolutions to outline specific details of an April 3 referendum in which voters will be asked to approve two questions related to facility improvements.

• A $45.86 million set of capital improvements projects involving short and long-term needs at all district facilities.

• A $2.1 million question to add lighting and parking behind the high school which would allow for a new, flexible, artificial turf field to support physical education classes, marching band, community athletics, spring baseball and softball practice, as well as soccer and football.

"This long-range facility master plan is the result of a careful and deliberate three-year study process," Superintendent Jamie Benson said. "It originated when community members established a district strategic plan vision (February 2015) that included facility recommendations to protect current assets, plan for future enrollment growth, align with best educational practices, identify a long-term facility solution for the Montessori Elementary, and exit the 1920's/40's sections of the Academy Building."

In response to the community's vision for school facilities, the School Board gathered information and feedback and identified four main referendum goals:

• Minimize the property tax impact by leveraging the timing of facility improvements with district debt levy retirement.

• Add elementary classroom space (regular full-sized classrooms; special education space) to address capacity challenges and educational adequacy issues.

• Create next-generation/21st Century flexible learning space at all of our schools (some new space and some revisions to existing space).

• Maintain aging facilities. Although the district has committed approximately $1 million annually to maintain and protect our facilities, many systems have outlived their useful life and due to limited state school funding, we simply do not have annual operational dollars to appropriately address these growing needs.

During the months of February and March the district will provide the community with detailed information about the referendum questions. The district will hold public informational forums, offer resources on the district's website, through printed material, and social media.

"It is the Board's intent to provide honest and transparent information to enable voters to make an informed decision on April 3.," said Board President Stacy Johnson-Myers.