Surveys gauging public interest for district school updates arrived in mailboxes and email inboxes May 5.

Superintendent Shelly Severson explained what was going on.

“We have separated our needs into three different piles. One of them is updates and upgrades to the high school, another one of them is elementary needs because we think Third Street has outlived it lived its usefulness as a school, and that its time to stop investing money into that building and start investing in our other schools. Then the third is some district-wide maintenance problems,” said Severson.

Severson went into more depth about the updates she and a group of community members called the Community Facility Taskforce are looking into.

“Some district wide maintenance would be like boilers. Right now when a roof goes bad,  we replace pieces of it each year out of our annual budget. To do an entire roof is too expensive [for] our annual budget,” said Severson.

As she was talking about finances she got into specifics.

“The district cannot spend more than its community is willing to support. So right now we have a survey out there. If we were to get everything we have absolutely asked for, we would spend 36 million if we did the most expensive if everything.”

The taskforce has asked community members how much they are willing to spend for upgrades. The survey allows respondents to specify what they’re comfortable with–20, 25, 30 or $40 million for all the upgrades.

The survey was sent out and got to the people of the school districts houses about 2 weeks ago.

“We sent a paper copy of it to everyone who lives in the district and we emailed it out to all the staff members and emailed out to all the families,” said Severson, “and is open till May 23.”

She explained the Community Committee Task Force is determined to work withing the means of a budget. After they determine what the community will support, they’ll make more detail plans that fit with what the community supports.

“The Community Committee Task Force and the school board will work together this summer to take that $36 million project and figure out what pieces we can do. They then will make a recommendation with the school board which would actually go to a referendum.”

“So, next fall our hope is when everyone is going to the polls to vote for governor, they would have a referendum question there. If we are successful there, that is when the actual bidding starts and the construction starts,” said Severson.

If the project becomes a referendum question, students 18 and older are able to vote in that election. Those who have graduated but feel they have a stake in the process can vote using an absentee ballot.