2019 Bond Referendum for a New High School
What we heard about the May 2019 referendum:
- The cost of the new high school was too high.
- The tax impact was too high for the residents of Owatonna.
- A suggestion to determine how the current Owatonna High School building would be a part of the community going forward.
- A request to revisit and compare the costs of a new high school vs. a remodel of the current Owatonna High School.
- Interest in seeing what taxpayers were going to get for their money and location for a new high school.
What's changed since the May 2019 referendum?
Extensive work went into addressing the needs identified by the Facilities Task Force while also listening to the community to reduce the cost and tax impact, retain corporate donors, reduce the cost of the new high school and review and offer options to reuse the current Owatonna High School. Two different companies provided estimates to renovate the existing high school; the renovation costs were so close to building new that they were deemed impractical and not fiscally responsible.
Cost to taxpayers for the high school has decreased from $116M to $104M
- Reduced the student capacity from 1,700 students to 1,600 students.
- Cut the number of gym courts from five to four.
- Retained $22M in local corporate donations for building costs.
- Gained a corporate donation to purchase the land for a new high school.
Tax impact has been reduced
Due to the lower cost and a lengthened bond repayment period, the monthly tax impact for the average homeowner reduced from $23/month to about $16/month for the average homeowner ($175,000 value home) for the new high school.
State legislature passed tax relief for farmers, reducing their tax burden on current and future school bond referendums.
The State is phasing in an increase to the credit, it will be 55% for taxes payable in 2021, 60% for taxes payable in 2022, and for taxes payable 2023 and later the credit will be 70%.
Click the "Tax Impact" tab above for more information.
Vision for new High School
For more information go to "What's Included" above
Plan to re-purpose the current high school
For more information go to "What's Included" above
Build a new high school for 1,600 students
Our vision has not changed since the May 2019 referendum. From the research completed by the Community Task Force on Facilities, the design plan would include:
- New learning spaces that propel our students into 21st century opportunities
- 300,000 square foot building designed to accommodate 1600 students
- 70 classrooms, labs and shops outfitted with modern technology to support learning
- Lunchroom space adequate to allow all students to get a seat during lunch (567 students per lunch), it will also double as a community commons
- Flexible media center to support a variety of learning opportunities
- Main gymnasium and auxiliary gym to provide 4 courts for physical education and athletics
- Modern career education spaces with updated vocational labs with modern industrial equipment, and flexibility to accommodate changes
- 900 seat auditorium will be paired with an improved music area containing rooms more appropriately sized to accommodate our very popular music programs
- Adequate on site parking for students, staff and visitors as well as better accommodations for event parking - at least 1,000 parking stalls
- Up to date building systems including modern and energy efficient mechanical and electrical systems
- Temperature control for both winter and summer building use
- Building systems designed to allow flexibility for future changes as technology evolves in the future
Site plan design concept is shown above. The final plan will be developed after careful consideration by our stakeholders.
Following a successful vote on November 5, the District will involve stakeholders and community members in the design of the new high school. A new high school will become an important community space; therefore, it is critical the eventual design be created by and for our community.
Architects created design concepts (shown above) to best meet the needs of our students, however, the final plan will be developed after careful consideration by our stakeholders. Members of our community will be welcomed into the design process including citizens, staff and student representatives. All efforts will be made to ensure the plan will meet the needs of our students and incorporate functional designs that fit our Owatonna sensibilities and prepare our future workforce in our community and beyond.
The Owatonna School District has identified an approximately 88-acre parcel of land suitable for a new high school, following an extensive review of land options done in partnership with city and county officials. Federated Insurance has signed a letter of intent with the landowner to purchase the land and donate it to the school district, if voters approve the November 5 ballot question requesting funding for a new high school.
The land is located at 1945 SE 18th St, near the intersection of Highways 14 and 218 in the southern part of the community. The parcel rose to the top of other options that were explored based on criteria that city, county and school district planners used to assess available land including traffic flow, proximity to utilities and soil conditions.
Repurpose the current Owatonna High School for district and/or community use
If voters approve Question 1 and 2, it will provide a total of $11M to be used to repurpose the current Owatonna High School site.
Plans to repurpose the current high school
Review the current high school to utilize the best parts of the building for district services and potential community usage. If Question 2 is successful, the final design would be a collaboration with the community and will likely include partial demolition, renovation and systems updates. This proposal allows the site to stay in School District control and explore the opportunity to sell other district-owned properties, thus consolidating many operations into one efficient location.
If voters approve only Question 1 and not Question 2, the current high school location would still stay in School District control- however, most of the current high school would be demolished, as the district would not have enough funds to maintain or renovate it.
The above photo is one concept the community can explore.
The final design would be a collaboration with the community.
November 5, 2019 Voting Information
Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on November 5, 2019. Visit mnvotes.org to find your polling location.
Absentee/Early voting begins September 20 and can be done in person at the Steele County Auditor's Office located at 630 Florence Avenue or by applying for your ballot online at mnvotes.org.
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 2, 2019
10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
10:00- 3:00 p.m
What's on the ballot and what will it cost?
Question 1: A new high school campus to be constructed for $104M
- 1,600 student capacity, 300,624 sq. ft
- While the project would cost $126M, $22M in corporate donations plus a donation of land have reduced total cost and tax impact to $104M
Question 2: Repurpose the current high school site for future district and/or community use, $8M
- Question 2 can only pass if Question 1 for New OHS is approved
- If voters approve Question 1 and Question 2, it will provide a total of $11M to be used to repurpose the current Owatonna High School site
- Final design would be a collaboration with the community and will likely include partial demolition, renovation and systems updates.
- If voters approve only Question 1 and not Question 2, the current high school location would still stay in School District control- however, most of the current high school would be demolished, as the district would not have enough funds to maintain or renovate it.
The following sites will serve as polling locations for the November 5, 2019 ISD 761 (Owatonna Public Schools) referendum, with precincts served listed below. You can also find your polling location using the Secretary of State's polling place finder website.
All ISD No. 761 precincts located outside of the City of Owatonna
Clinton Falls Town Hall
3723 North County Rd 45, Owatonna
City of Owatonna Polling Locations
Trinity Lutheran Church
609 Lincoln Ave
Ward 1, Precinct 1
800 Havana Road
Ward 1, Precinct 2
Owatonna Public Library
105 Elm Avenue North
Ward 2, Precinct 1
Brooktree Golf Course Clubhouse
1369 Cherry Street
Ward 2, Precinct 2
Owatonna Arts Center
City Administration Building
540 West Hills Circle
Ward 3, Precinct 1
Emmanuel Lutheran Church
750 Jeffrey Street
Ward 3, Precinct 2
Sacred Heart Parish Center
810 South Cedar Avenue
(entrance at 739 South Oak)
Ward 4, Precinct 1
Steele County Historical Society
1700 Austin Road
Ward 4, Precinct 2
Grace Baptist Church
265 NE 26th Street
Ward 5, Precinct 1
Our Saviors Lutheran Church
1909 St. Paul Road
Ward 5, Precinct 2
- Polling Place Finder - find your polling location
- MN Secretary of State Website for information about voter registration and voter eligibility
Absentee/Early Voting Information
In Minnesota, you do not have to wait until Election Day to vote - you can vote early with an absentee ballot.
Absentee-early voting is available starting September 20, 2019 at the Steele County Auditor's Office, 630 Florence Avenue, Owatonna.
To Vote Absentee-Early Voting
- Download the application and submit it to the Steele County Auditor's Office, 630 Florence Avenue. You will receive your ballot by mail and can then submit your ballot by mail or in person at the Steele County Auditor's Office, 630 Florence Avenue, Owatonna.
- Go in person to the Steele County Auditor's Office, 630 Florence Avenue, to complete and submit an absentee ballot application. You will receive your ballot immediately and you can cast your vote at the same time.
For more information on voting early, click here.
The district will hold a special election on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 seeking voter approval of two ballot questions.
QUESTION 1 would authorize the district to issue up to $104M for acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including but not limited to, construction of a new high school.
QUESTION 2 would authorize the district to issue up to $8M for acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including but not limited to, re-purposing of the old high school site for School District use.
Question 2 is contingent on Question 1, meaning it can only pass if Question 1 is approved by voters.
In 2019, the legislature increased state funding to reduce taxes for agricultural property owners on existing and future school building bonds.
- For taxes payable in 2020, the credit reduces taxes for owners of agricultural property in an amount equivalent to 50% of the taxes attributable to school district debt service for all agricultural property, except for the house, garage, and one acre.
- The State is phasing in an increase to the credit, it will be 55% for taxes payable in 2021, 60% for taxes payable in 2022, and for taxes payable 2023 and later the credit will be 70%.
- This credit is directly deducted from property taxes statements and is included in the tax impact estimates.
- Read about the statewide tax credit in the Owatonna People's Press article HERE.
Property Tax Refunds
You may be eligible for a refund based on your household income and the property taxes paid on your primary residence in Minnesota. The following information is for the 2018 tax year, so figures may change slightly for 2019 taxes.
Minnesota Homestead Credit Refund
If your adjusted gross income is less than approximately $113,150, you may qualify for the Homestead Credit Refund (also known as the “Circuit Breaker” refund). This program, which has existed since the 1970s, is intended to reduce tax burdens for homeowners with relatively low incomes and relatively high property tax burdens. Some important facts about this program are summarized below.
- Available each year to owners of homestead property
- Applies only to the taxes attributable to the house, garage, and one acre on agricultural homestead property
- Available to all owners of residential homestead and agricultural homestead property with household incomes of less than $113,150
- Refund is on a sliding scale, based on your income and your total property tax burden
- The maximum refund is $2,770
- Also available to renters
- To determine eligibility and refund amounts, complete Minnesota tax form M1PR
Special Property Tax Refund
If your total property taxes increase by more than 12 percent and more than $100 from one year to the next, you may qualify for a state refund equal to a portion of the increase. There is no income limit for this refund.
To determine eligibility and refund amounts, complete Minnesota tax form M1PR
Senior Citizen Property Tax Deferral
If you are 65 years or older and have a household income of $60,000 or less, you may be eligible to defer a portion of the property taxes on your home, through the Senior Citizen Property Tax Deferral Program.
- Limits the maximum amount of property tax you pay to 3 percent of your total household income
- Provides predictability; the amount of tax you pay will not change for as long as you participate in this program
- To determine eligibility, complete MN Senior Citizens' Property Tax Deferral Application
Prepared and paid for by Owatonna Public Schools. This publication is not circulated on behalf of any candidate or ballot question.