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Helmut Schmidt, Published May 05 2013

Rothsay to vote on school bonding plan

ROTHSAY, Minn. – A $19.4 million school bond issue goes to voters here May 16.

“If you look at our building, we don’t have a single classroom that is empty in the building at any time during the day,” Rothsay School District Superintendent Warren Schmidt said Friday.

“There’s definitely a need. This isn’t frivolous. We are trying to build a school that will meet our needs and hold our expansion if we continue to grow,” he said.

It’s the second attempt in less than five months to get the OK to build a new school in Rothsay.

A vote in mid-December on a $24 million plan, involving not just a school, but space for a community center and fire hall, was defeated by just 12 votes.

Schmidt said the latest bonding plan pays for most of a $19.92 million 89,000-square-foot school. It would be built on 18.5 acres along Interstate 94 by the district’s football field.

About $430,000 for the school will come from district capital funds and another $93,000 from investment earnings, documents show.

No plans have been drawn, Schmidt said, with the school’s set-up to be decided by the community.

The district needs classroom space for 350 students, two gymnasiums, and rooms for special education, technology and other programs, with all of it meeting handicapped-access requirements, he said.

Gym space is needed for physical education classes and athletics. Sports practices start at 6:30 a.m. and run until 9:30 p.m., he said.

The present school has about 49,000 square feet. The original section dates to 1903, with several sections added over its 110-year life.

It’s crowded, Schmidt said. Rothsay’s school had 213 students at the end of the 2010-11 school year. On Friday, it had 267 students. Projections call for enrollment to grow 10 percent a year, he said.

Joe Tillman is co-chairman of the Vote Yes Rothsay citizens group supporting the project.

Tillman said 45 percent of the school is 1940s vintage or older. Another 38 percent was added in the 1960s, with the rest coming in the 2000s.

“It’s such a mish-mash of so many areas of building. It’s way out of code,” Tillman said.

Tillman said the Rothsay area is attracting young families, and parents are sending their children to the district through open enrollment because the district does so well on the state’s annual tests.

“Now we’re to the point where we’re running out of space,” he said.

Schmidt said homeowners would see their taxes drop because of a $1,500 reduction in the district’s per pupil levy. But other types of property will see varying increases in taxes.

An analysis of the tax impact is available on www.voteyesrothsay.

com.

Taxpayers can get more specific property tax estimates by contacting the district’s main office, or Ehlers and Associates at (800) 552-1171 and providing their parcel number or having their previous tax statement available.

The vote will be held 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 16 in the Rothsay Public School cafeteria.

The bond issue needs a simple majority of voters approving it to pass.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583