Questions & Answers
Following are questions that have been submitted by community members and staff using the “Ask a Question” page (at left) or that were asked at community information meetings. If you would like to submit a question, please use the “Ask a Question” form, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 651-635-1605. You will receive a response within 24 hours (during the business week).
Question: I noticed most of the proposed projects include designated space or a new addition for Friendship Connection space. What is that?
Answer: Friendship Connection is the name of the school district's before and after-school child care. It is offered at every elementary school and approximately 900 students participate in Friendship Connection during the school year. During the summer, 500 students participate in Friendship Connection.
Question: How can we obtain absentee ballots as we are going to be gone on November 7?
Answer: You are eligible to vote via absentee ballot regardless of whether you will be in town on November 7 or not. For some people it may be an easier option than voting in person at the polls on Election Day. In-person absentee voting begins 46 days prior to election day — September 22, 2017. Voters may vote in person at Ramsey County Elections (90 Plato Boulevard in St. Paul/651-266-2171). For information about absentee ballot applications, please click here. Applications may be mailed, faxed, or delivered in person to the Ramsey County Elections Office. Ballots will be mailed to voters and must be received by Ramsey County on or before Election Day (November 7, 2017).
Question: If this referendum doesn't pass, does the board have the authority to pass a portion of it without voter approval, and how much would that be?
Answer: Over the course of the two-year facilities study, the district identified facilities needs (space constraints, deferred maintenance, outdated spaces) in every building. The community-based Options Committee prioritized the projects and narrowed them down to those considered urgent and made a recommendation to the school board. To address the most urgent needs, the district is taking a two-pronged approach:
- Long-term Facilities Maintenance (LTFM): The state allows school districts to address building maintenance issues (heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofs, paving, walls, floors, and windows) through a combination non-voter-approved local levy and state aid (called LTFM). Until now, Roseville Area Schools has underutilized this funding. On June 27, the school board approved increasing the district’s LTFM investment from just under $4 million to $12 million annually for the next 10 years. The projects funded via LTFM are reviewed and approved by the Minnesota Department of Education. This funding has been approved by the school board and does not require voter approval.
- Building Bond: On June 27, the school board approved asking local voters to approve $144 million to address additional deferred maintenance needs (not covered by LTFM) as well as space needs due to growing enrollment and updating instructional and community spaces. This is the portion of the facilities projects that would be funded by the bond and this funding is what voters are being asked to approve on November 7.
If voters do not approve the November 7 building bond referendum, our facilities issues will not go away. We will be able to address a portion of the projects covered under LTFM but it leaves a significant portion of projects unaddressed related to deferred maintenance, growing enrollment, and outdated spaces. In reality, the costs of addressing these issues will likely only get more expensive the more we delay addressing the needs.
Question: A number of schools have been closed or sold to Northeast Metro 916, City of Roseville, etc. over the recent past. What were the proceeds from these transactions and what were they used for?
Answer: Following is a listing of the school district properties that have been sold dating back to 1981. The properties were sold due to both aging structures and a continued decline in enrollment, which began in the 1976-77 school year.
North Heights, 1981 – sale price $1,250,000
McCarron’s School, 1981 – sale price $693,000
Lexington School property, 1988 – sale price $125,000
Capitol View, 1989 – sale price $2,200,000
Owasso Hills development, sold 1996-1999 - net sale proceeds after expenses $3,500,000
St. Jude Medical campus, 2007 – sale price $1.6 million (proceeds were used for stadium and field improvements at Roseville Area High School)
Lake Owasso School, 2015 – sale price $2,400,000 (proceeds are still being used for 1:1 learning devices and technology infrastructure)
Proceeds from the sale of the above school properties were strategically reinvested in the district facilities and sites. Minnesota law requires these funds be deposited in the capital outlay fund and prohibits the use of such funds for general fund operating expenses. The most recent sales proceeds from the Lake Owasso School are still being used to fund instructional technology improvements.
Question: Is voting open to all who live in the district boundaries not just Roseville?
Answer: Yes. Voting on the November 7 building bond referendum is open to residents age 18+ who live within the boundaries of Roseville Area School District. This includes all or part of seven communities — Roseville, Little Canada, Falcon Heights, Maplewood, Arden Hills, Shoreview, and Lauderdale.
Question: Is there any maintenance that is being deferred? Meaning does this bond cover the mechanical and ongoing maintenance needs for the 20-year period of the bond?
Answer: The majority of the deferred maintenance projects will be taken care of via long-term facilities maintenance (LTFM) funding. The state of Minnesota provides school districts with the authority to address ongoing maintenance projects with LTFM funding, which is non-voter-approved property taxes and state aid. On June 27, the school board approved $12 million for this year. The plan is to have $12 million per year for 10 years, which must be approved annually by the school board. After the 10 years, the school district will continue to budget an adequate amount of funding dedicated to addressing ongoing maintenance needs.
Question: Why has the school board not addressed this in the past 25 years?
Answer: The recession is just one reason why the district has not sought voter approval of a bond referendum since 1992. In fact, it was a series of events one after another — and the reluctance of the district to increase taxes at difficult times in the economy — that resulted in the 25-year gap. In the 1990s, the Minnesota Department of Education would penalize school districts if their fund balance (savings account) was too high. As a result, in the late 1990s Roseville Area Schools had money taken away. Without the fund balance buffer and in combination with the negative financial impact of September 11, 2001, the district was forced into statutory operating debt (SOD). Many taxpayers in the community filed for abatements on their taxes resulting in some of the community’s big commercial properties evading their taxes so the school district did not get that funding until a much later date. As a result, the district sought voter approval of an operating levy in 2002. In 2006, the district sought voter approval to increase the operating levy authority (but reduced facilities funding at the same time to keep the tax increase at $0). The district emerged from SOD in 2007 and the recession hit in 2008. In 2013, the district renewed (with an inflationary increase) the existing referendum revenue authorization, which was set to expire.
Question: What is the construction at the old Capitol View building? Does this ease any of the capacity issues? Or is this a completely separate funded effort (and also where is that funding coming from)?
Answer: The old Capitol View Junior High School building on the corner of Rice and B2 was sold to Northeast Metro 916 in 1989 at a time when our district like many Minnesota districts was experiencing a significant drop in enrollment. (Our enrollment dropped in half over the course of a few years.) As there would be a cost to maintain an empty facility the district sold the building. Northeast Metro 916 is building a new Capitol View building on the site.
Question: I understand that the district has not requested bond referendum funds since 1992. But what operating levy referendum requests has the district made since that time?
Answer: Since 1992, the district has received voter approval for three operating levies. here are the details:
- 2002: Roseville Area Schools requested voter approval of an operating levy that would provide $227.82 per student for five years. Voters approved the operating levy.
- 2006: Roseville Area Schools requested voter approval of an operating levy that would provide $1,575 per student for seven years. The district revoked the current levy authority, increased the operating levy authority, and reduced the Alternative Facilities Levy, which resulted in a zero increase in the tax burden on district taxpayers. Voters approved the operating levy.
- 2013: Roseville Area Schools requested voter approval of an operating levy that would provide $1,505 per student for eight years with an inflationary increase. The district was renewing the school district’s existing referendum revenue authorization, which was set to expire. The initial tax impact was a $0 net change for residents. Voters approved the operating levy.
Question: How many years will the taxes from this bond referendum be in effect?
Answer: The district is seeking voter approval of a 20-year bond referendum, which would start with taxes payable in 2018.
Question: What is the difference between a bond and an operating levy?
Answer: In short, bonds are for building and levies for learning. A bond referendum is used to raise funds to renovate or build facilities. Funds from a bond referendum can only be used for this purpose and cannot be used to pay for the general operations of the district. An operating levy is used to raise funds to pay for the general operations of the district, which includes the cost of teachers and other staff.
Question: The last bond referendum request was in 1992. Why did the district wait so long to seek community support for another bond?
Answer: Since 1992, a number of factors—including the recession—have made the school district reluctant to raise residents’ taxes unless completely necessary. But with significant issues resulting from aging buildings AND growing student enrollment, we know we must take action now.
Question: How did the district decide what projects would be addressed?
Answer: The district worked with Wold Architects to conduct an extensive review of all of the district’s buildings. During the review, which involved discussions with staff at every building, Wold developed a list of facilities-related needs. That list was presented to community members and staff members who participated on the three Criteria Committees, which were responsible for determining what needed to be addressed in the areas of physical criteria, educational criteria, and activities and community criteria. To view a chart of the projects, visit www.isd623.org/buildingbond2017 and search for “Building Projects” under Resources.
Question: Why is the district doing some of the maintenance repairs through the Long-Term Facilities Maintenance funding?
Answer: The state pays for a portion of the project cost, which lowers the cost for our district residents. In addition, though the state gave school districts the authority to levy funding for the most basic maintenance work, Roseville Area Schools has underutilized this source of funding. In fact, of the original 25 districts that were authorized to levy for this funding, our school district has used it the least. But the time has come when we need to invest in our buildings.
Question: If the bond referendum passes, when will work start and when will the work be completed?
Answer: Projects covered by Long-Term Facilities Maintenance (LTFM) funding will start after January 1, 2018. As there are ongoing maintenance needs to address at every building yet the need to keep buildings open for student programming, the LTFM projects will extend over a 10-year period. With regard to bond-related work, if community members support the building bond on November 7, a community- and staff-based Design Team will work through the design phase for 6-12 months. Construction on the first projects will start next summer and will last approximately three years.
Question: What is current student enrollment? How many of those students open enroll from other school districts?
Answer: For the 2016-17 school year, Roseville Area Schools' total enrollment including pre-k special education services was 7,609 students. Of this total, 1,520 (or 20%) of our total student population is open enrolled in our district. This percentage has been fairly consistent in recent years. It is important to note that while the district serves 1,520 students through the Minnesota Choice Options program, 975 of our resident students opt to attend charter schools or public schools outside of Roseville, as allowed by this same statute. In addition, Harambee Elementary came to us for $1 but with the agreement with the state legislature that is must remain a magnet school open to students from other districts. It does not have its own neighborhood from which to pull students. Once you remove the Harambee students from the total we are on the plus side of open enrollment approximately 285 students across 11 schools. Decisions related to open enrollment are made on an annual basis and are determined by grade level rather than building. In 2016-17 we closed open enrollment for grades 7-12. This year, we have closed open enrollment for grades 7-12 as well. We will make further determinations about other grade levels as needed and take appropriate action.