Board will use the results to construct questions for a bond referendum

To the taxpayers and patrons of ISD #696:
In September, a community-wide survey will go out by email and US Post to give all taxpayers/voters and other constituents of Independent School District #696 the opportunity to weigh in on potential school facility improvements. You are likely aware that many separate options are on the table. We invite you to complete the survey and indicate which improvements, and how much of a tax increase, you would support.
The information you provide will be analyzed by School Perceptions, a company that specializes in constructing surveys of this kind and compiling the data into a statistically accurate recommendation. The School Board will use the results to construct questions for a bond referendum that could be held in February or April of 2020.
The board will hold public information sessions prior to a vote.
The facilities project discussion all started with the idea of indoor connections between our buildings. For years, the safety and security of our students traveling between buildings has been a focus of the district. This remains our primary concern, though we may also realize savings in heating costs because we won’t be opening doors to the outside in the dead of winter multiple times a day. Other concerns that arose during facilities discussions include the maintenance and upkeep required for buildings approximately 100 years old. That can be expensive, but there is a great sense of community pride in our historic buildings, and maintaining them is a priority. In the course of discussing these projects with multiple stakeholders and consultants, several other potential projects were also identified, which are all separate items on the survey.
Community members and local media have raised the question of obtaining IRRRB funds. The July 22 School Board study session, with IRRRB representatives present, clarified options for applying for Collaboration and Innovative Programming funds.
Because Ely is “at the end of the road,” IRRRB acknowledges that collaboration similar to what Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert or St. Louis County Schools and Mt. Iron-Buhl are doing is probably not an option. However, innovative programming is something we can do for our students, and if successful, it may be replicated through academic collaboration. It was stated that for the IRRRB to support a facilities project like ours, they need to see community commitment. The passage of a bond referendum would show such support, making IRRRB more likely to provide funding.
Thank you for reading this and for your continued support of the Ely School District.
Kevin Abrahamson, Ely School District Superintendent