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District will host public meetings about potential referendum

School District 833 will host four public meetings this month to discuss what should be included in a referendum this fall.

Because of steady growth, the district needs more buildings, technology upgrades and replacement of heating, cooling and air quality systems in all but the two newest elementary schools.

Meetings will be held at 7 p.m., April 10, at Lake Junior High School; 7 p.m., April 17, at Woodbury Junior High School; 7:30 p.m., April 18, at Cottage Grove Junior High School; and at 7 p.m., April 24, at Oltman Junior High School in St. Paul Park.

After hearing from the public, school board members will decide what will be on the September ballot.

The district has started work on replacing the heating, cooling and mechanical systems at Woodbury High School, and the system at Pullman Elementary School in St. Paul Park will be done this summer.

Replacement at the other schools needs to be done whether or not the School Board decides to put $42 million on the ballot this fall, to comply with state codes on air quality in school buildings.

The district is also mulling asking for $1 million a year for 10 years to keep up technology for students and district staff.

Replacing security camera systems in secondary schools and installing new systems in elementaries is included.

In connection with the need for more schools and adding space to some existing buildings, district officials will decide whether to change grade configurations.

One choice is to build a third high school.

Ninth-graders, now in junior high schools, would be moved to high schools and sixth-graders would go to junior highs that would become "middle" schools, with kindergarten through fifth-grade in elementaries.

That would include one new elementary school and additions on other schools for a total of $92 million.

The other option is to keep the current grade system as it is and build a new seventh grade to 12th grade school and build two new elementary schools for $87 million.

The new secondary school is not envisioned to have varsity sports programs and could be a special-focus school on the arts, for example.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600