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Worthington school referendum basics explained

WORTHINGTON — The Feb. 13 referendum is just around the corner. Many of you have already voted  — thank you!  For those that haven’t voted, you may vote early, in-person at the Nobles County Auditor/Treasurer office located at 315 10th St. in Worthington between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Absentee voting can also be done by mail. Questions about absentee voting can be directed to the Nobles County Auditor/Treasurer, Beth Van Hove, at 295-5258 or bvanhove@co.nobles.mn.us.

Enrollment is growing

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this referendum is all about space. We want to provide room to learn, and room to grow. Enrollment is projected to continue to grow and buildings are already at capacity. Our current enrollment is 3,209 while building capacity is 2,975. Our enrollment is significantly larger than surrounding districts, as well as other districts in our athletic conference. Our current buildings can’t support our growing enrollment — equal to four classrooms full of children every year. This plan addresses overcrowding and space issues at every grade level.

A new plan

While some of the elements of the plan may seem similar to the 2016 referendum, a lot has changed. Stadiums and athletic fields have been removed, while the new high school building remains. All of the classroom and core space configurations and changes will be handled by the district without impacting the referendum. The new one-question referendum addresses space shortages by funding the following:

  • Constructing a new high school on district-owned 155-acre site
  • Reconfiguring the current high school facility for grades 6-8
  • Reconfiguring the current middle school facility to serve grades 3-5
  • Reconfiguring the current Prairie Elementary School to serve PK-2 programming
  • Discontinuing use of West Learning Center
How much will it cost me?

At Worthington Schools, we work hard to manage taxpayer dollars wisely. School property taxes are lower than the state average and below the median on the Big South Conference for both agricultural and residential property taxes. If the referendum is approved, property taxes will increase on residences, ag land and commercial property. On an average Worthington home of $115,000 the annual increase would be $147.86 or just $12.32 per month. Visit the referendum website to learn more about taxes and relief programs.

40 percent ag-land tax credit

The 40 percent School Building Bond Agricultural Credit, known as Ag2School, is now in effect. The credit applies to all current and future general obligation debt payments including this upcoming voter approved bond request. The impact on an acre of non-homestead agricultural land valued at $7,000 is estimated to be $7.05.  Without the Ag2School credit this school building bond request would have been $11.75 per acre — so that is a savings to ag landowners of $4.70 an acre. Like any law, this one could be repealed, but State Reps. Joe Schomacker and Rod Hamilton, and State Sen. Bill Weber, believe the AG2Schools bond credit is here to stay because the provision has strong bipartisan support in the legislature, as well as strong support from a coalition of education and farm groups.

We appreciate your efforts to make an informed decision in this election. You can find more referendum information on the district website. Feel free to contact us at info@isd518.net or by phone at 372-2172 with any questions.  

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