Description of Proposed School Construction Project
Martin County West Public School District, ISD #2448-01 is proposing a two question bond referendum on November 7, 2023. The first ballot question would authorize $63 million in bonding authority to finance the construction of a new, PK-12 facility and the replacement of outdoor athletic facilities on the two existing school sites in Sherburn. The existing middle/high school in Sherburn, along with the two existing elementary schools (in Sherburn & Trimont), would all be demolished. The second ballot question would authorize an additional $9 million in bonding authority to finance a 400 seat auditorium and an auxiliary gymnasium. The second ballot question is contingent upon passage of the first ballot question for a new school.
The projects would be scheduled for completion in calendar years 2024 through 2026. Cost estimates by ballot question/project component are as follows:
The existing middle/high school in Sherburn was built in 1956. Sherburn Elementary was built in 1969 and Trimont Elementary in 1959. Facility analysis have found the three existing school structures in need of upgrades estimated to exceed 60% of new construction costs. The existing school sites (middle/high school and elementary) in Sherburn are adjacent but bisected by State Highway 4. Together the two sites have about 43 acres. The district will work with state and local transportation officials to address pedestrian safety issues if a new PK-12 is authorized by the voters.
In 1993, the year after the Sherburn, Trimont and Welcome school districts consolidated to form the Martin County West School District, K-12 enrollment was around 960 students. The district currently has around 600 students enrolled in K-12 programming. The district is projecting a slight reduction in enrollment over the next five years.
The proposed, new PK-12 school results in roughly 260 square feet of building space per student; within an acceptable range of Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE) building space Guidelines of around 200 square feet per student. The district has supplied cost estimates to operate and staff the proposed PK-12 building and is projecting operational cost savings of roughly $1.5 million annually with a new, PK-12 facility; compared to the operational costs of the existing school buildings. The proposed projects appear to be in the long-term interest of the school district.
If the bond referendum is successful and bonds are sold, the debt service on the bonds will be eligible for debt service equalization under Minnesota Statutes, section 123B.53, subdivision 3, if the bond schedule is approved. The amount of debt service equalization aid, if any, the district receives is determined annually and is dependent upon property wealth, student population, and other statutory requirements.
Based on the department’s analysis of the school district’s required documentation and other pertinent information from sources of the Minnesota Department of Education, the Commissioner of Education provides a positive review and comment.
Persons desiring additional information regarding this proposal should contact the school district superintendent’s office.